On Wednesday, Bayer HealthCare announced the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) approval of Skyla, a new, low-dose hormone intrauterine device (IUD) designed to prevent pregnancy for up to three years, the first of its kind to be approved in 12 years.
"This opens up the conversation," says Anita Nelson, M.D, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. "Before, the thinking was that women who've never had a baby should try other options or only get an IUD if they couldn't use the pill. This offers women another choice."
Skyla is designed specifically with young women who've never had a baby or given birth in mind: It's narrower and smaller than other IUDs, which makes placement in the uterus easier and less painful, and it contains a lower dose of hormones then even Mirena (currently the lowest-dose form of birth control on the market).
A trial of 1,432 women aged 18 to 35 saw a pregnancy rate over a three-year period of less than 1 percent, and 77 percent of women hoping to become pregnant after removing the IUD did so within a year of removal, a Bayer press release reports.
Although IUDs are used by only about 2 percent of women in the United States, they remain far more popular in Europe, Dr. Nelson says. "I think this will be the tipping point. When you're the first of your friends to get an IUD, you may be hesitant, but once you see lots of other girls or women doing it, you might feel better."
IUDs have had a bad reputation in the past, but newer forms are perfectly safe. In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists now recommends it as one of the best forms of birth control, even for teens. A recent study also suggests that IUDs can help reduce menstrual bleeding and improve quality of life for women who suffer from heavy periods.
Do you have an IUD? What's your experience been like? Share in the comments!