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MTV Reality Show Runs More Like A Contraceptive Ad And Covers Little To No Side Effects

In this week’s episode of Teen Mom 2, Kailyn heads to her gynecologist for birth control and leaves with a Mirena IUD in her uterus.

The entire encounter, obviously edited, ran more like a commercial for Mirena than a contraceptive counseling session. Other contraceptives were mentioned generically only  -”a patch”, “a ring”, “the pill” – but when it came to the IUD, all we hear is the word Mirena – six times, to be exact, during the entire 2 and a half minute encounter with the doc.

DOC: If you don’t like the birth control pill, you do have other options. You know that there’s a birth control patch.
KAILYN: (suspiciously) Yeah
DOC: There’s a once a month vaginal ring. The ring itself is not uncomfortable. (Hands her the ring) They’re one size fits all – Right Isaac? (Baby plays with Nuvaring) They’re cool, right?
KAILYN: I just feel like me putting something in myself is all that much more room for error.
DOC: There’s also the Mirena.
KAILYN: Whaaaat is Mirena?
DOC: The Mirena goes right inside your uterus. They’re THE most effective method of birth control available because it really doesn’t rely on you to do anything or remember to do anything. (Part of a pamphlet shot) That’s what it looks like. It lasts for 5 years. If before 5 years you decide you want to have another child, it’s very easy to remove a Mirena right in the office.
KAILYN: I think I want Mirena.
DOC: If you want to, we can put it in today – and it only takes about a minute to put it in.
KAILYN: Does it hurt?
DOC: It’ll hurt a little tiny bit for a few seconds when it goes in
KAILYN: OK.All right – let’s do it.
DOC: You’re sure?
KAILYN: I’m sure
DOC: I’ll get you set up for it then.
(Staff member, who appears to have been waiting outside the door on cue walks in and offers to take the baby. Kailyn next gets onto table and we cut to Doc doing insertion.)
DOC: All right, if at any point it’s too much, we’ll stop…All right, this is the part that causes the little cramp (Kailyn winces slightly) You’re Mirena is in! You have birth control for FIVE YEARS. You can push yourself up off the edge.
KAILYN: So I’m being protected right now?
DOC: Immediately
KAILYN: I feel better already
DOC: (Smiles) Good. And I will recheck it for you in 6 weeks. Call me in the meantime if you need something before then.
KAILYN: All right, thank you.
(“Protected” stamped across screen. Fade out)

What Kailyn (and MTV’s millions of teen viewers) didn’t hear about Mirena

No one appears to have told Kailyn about anything other than Mirena’s convenience and efficacy and that it pinched a bit going in.

There is no mention that if Kailyn chooses Mirena, she should be prepared for changes in her menstrual cycle, most likely irregular spotting and over time, absence of menses.

Or that Mirena may worsen what appears to be her already pretty bad case of acne, so let’s have a plan for handling that up front.  (Or maybe reconsider Nuvaring – it’s actually pretty darned easy to use and could actually help her skin.)

No one mentioned  that there is another IUD called Paragard that acts a little differently. Or that IUD’s in general carry a small risk of pelvic infection at the time of insertion, should not be used by women who have already had PID, and don’t protect against STD’s, so is her boyfriend still going to use a condom?

All MTV viewers saw was a young woman dismissing every other form of birth control and happily leaving her doctor’s office with Mirena. Best 180 seconds of product marketing Bayer ever got.

Kailyn chose Mirena, but will she continue it?

If Kailyn’s counseling session really went down the way it was edited, I’d have concerns that she was not adequately prepared for the actual experience of having a Mirena, and might end up discontinuing her IUD much sooner than either she or her doctor expect.  She wouldn’t be alone in that regard – Early data suggest that close to 50% of teens will discontinue their IUD in the first 1-2 years of use.

Let’s not set teens up for failure by hyping Mirena on reality TV. Tell them what they need to know in order to make responsible, informed decisions.

It’s called contraceptive choice. Not Contraceptive marketing.

*This blog post was originally published at The Blog That Ate Manhattan*

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