More women have used emergency contraception – also called the morning-after pill – as well as other methods of birth control such as implants and intrauterine devices (IUDs), a 2013 government report shows.
Researchers at the National Center for Health Statistics collected data between 2006 and 2010 and reported that 11 percent of women between 15 and 44 had ever used the morning-after pill – up 4 percent from 2002. Of the women who used the pill, 59 percent had used it once, 24 percent twice and 17 percent said three or more times.
Younger women were also most likely to use emergency contraception, and the report shows that most users of the pill were never married and between the ages of 20 and 24.
Condoms are still the most popular form of contraception. Today, 89 percent of women use condoms or some other form of reversible contraception such as the birth control pill, contraceptive patch, intrauterine device such as Mirena or injectable birth control drug — up from 62 percent in 2002.
However, as the number of women using birth control increases, so does the risk of side effects.
Popular Birth Control Options Pose Risks
There are many birth control choices available to women, including hormonal IUD, a vaginal ring and different types of oral contraceptive pills. Depending on the woman, some choices may be better and safer than others. Like all drugs, birth control pills and devices have their own unique set of risks.
The Mirena IUD is manufactured by Bayer and is a flexible, T-shaped, plastic device that is implanted in the uterus. The IUD releases low doses of levonorgesterel, a progestin birth control hormone, directly into the uterus. The device is effective at preventing pregnancy for up to 5 years.
Since it was released in 2000, however, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received thousands of reports of complications. The most serious complications occur when Mirena migrates from the uterus and perforates the uterine wall and damages other organs. Other side effects include infertility, pregnancy outside the uterus and device expulsion.
A number of lawsuits were filed against Bayer by women who required a number of surgeries after the device spontaneously migrated. Lawsuits claim Bayer failed to warn the public.
NuvaRing is a once-a-month vaginal ring marketed by Merck and approved by the FDA in 2001. The ring uses the hormone etonogestrel, a third-generation progestin hormone, and must be replaced by the woman each month. Some studies have shown an increased risk of blood clots linked to third-generation progestins.
The most concerning side effect of NuvaRing is the higher risk of blood clots. Many women have suffered life-threatening blood clots requiring hospitalization. More than 1,000 lawsuits were filed against the ring’s manufacturer accusing it of concealing these dangerous side effects. The first trials in the multidistrict litigation (MDL) are planned for 2013.
Yaz, Yasmin & Ocella
Bayer’s Yaz and Yasmin birth control pills were first released in 2006 and include the hormone drospirenone. The drug is also available in generic form under the name Ocella.
These three birth control pills have been linked to blood clots, stroke, kidney disorders and uterine bleeding. More than 10,000 women and their families already filed lawsuits against Bayer after suffering side effects, some fatal. Plaintiffs claim that the drug manufacturer is guilty of fraud and deceit in failing to warn the public.
Before choosing a method of contraception, women should always speak to a doctor about the risks and benefits.