American Cities, the IUD, and You: #NowWhat
ColumnHow would you feel if the city you live in began promoting the benefits of certain types of birth control on city streets and buses? Well, the New York City Health Department recently launched a women’s health campaign that does just that.
The NYC Health Department launched a campaign about the wonders of the IUD, a popular, low maintenance birth control option. The Department is plastering catchy posters all over subways and bus shelters. And, no, these posters aren’t boring or silly — they actually are funny and pinpoint one of the big benefits of IUDs in three sentences:
“You spent the night in Brooklyn, but you left your birth control in Staten Island. Maybe the IUD is right for you.”
The campaign, called #MaybeTheIUD, makes a great point. Many women can easily forget to take their pills on time everyday. (And I know many of us have forgotten to take pills to overnights.) The IUD makes pill reminders and prescription refills a thing of the past. And the IUD has a few other positive features, too:
– It’s safe
– It’s a long-term birth control option (it is effective for three to 10 years, depending on the type)
– It can be removed anytime without affecting a woman’s fertility
This isn’t the first time the IUD has gotten public praise.
Since 2009, The Colorado Family Planning Initiative, a Colorado birth control program, has “provided teens and young women with more than 36,000 free or low-cost IUDs or other long-acting birth control devices,” KHN.org reports. (This program was about to end, but will go on for at least one more year thanks to $2 million in donations from private foundations, KHN.org reports.)
So, if the IUD is so effective, and at least two states have programs praising the perks of the IUD (IUDs can be quite expensive, which is one reason why the Colorado program is so great), why don’t more women have them? Probably because there’s a lot of bad information floating around about the safety of IUDs.
Luckily, the NYC campaign creators knew that. In fact, that’s one of the other main reasons the NYC campaign was launched.
Deborah Kaplan, the assistant for the Bureau of Maternal, Infant and Reproductive Health for the NYC Health Department, wants the campaign to provide accurate information to women about IUDs, and birth control in general, “if we can make this more open, we think more women will be comfortable going to their providers, asking about this and thinking about the different options they have,” Kaplan says.
We all can agree that information and having options make using birth control more effective. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I learned about the effectiveness of IUDs. And although birth control pills are mainstream, I know many women who have (at one point) not known that they had to take the pill at the same time every day for it to be effective… Yikes.
Although these campaigns are mainly touting the IUD’s “greatness,” the overall point here is that birth control ( all types: we’re talking period tracking, too) needs more positive press, and that news needs to be spread to more women. If women are armed with accurate information about birth control and given easy access to those options, they’re more likely to use it (and use it successfully).
So, whether you choose to use condoms, a diaphragm, birth control pills, or the pull out method, just make certain you have all the information you possibly can to ensure you remain child-free for as long as you’d like to.
One can only wonder how many unplanned pregnancies wouldn’t occur if more states had programs like the two mentioned above. Let’s hope that in the following years, more states in the U.S. will embrace these types of campaigns to help inform women.
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