Long Acting Reversible Contraception

Long-acting reversible contraception, such as intrauterine devices (IUDs) and hormonal implants, are some of the most effective, safe forms of birth control available for women of all ages. Additionally, hormonal IUDs also have non-contraceptive health benefits, including decreasing the risk of certain cancers and treating debilitating menstrual problems for some women. However, both their cost and misconceptions about safety have prevented many women from being able to take advantage of these methods.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) now requires insurers to cover the full cost of all FDA-approved contraceptives (including IUDs) As physicians, we support the ACA and its new legislation, which expands access to all contraception and enables insured women to choose the birth control method that is right for them. However, IUDs and implants remain out of reach for the uninsured.

Learn how we are working to make IUDs available to more women and teens.

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Highly Effective and Low-Maintenance: Spreading LARC Awareness

Dr. Pratima GuptaLARC Awareness Week is November 15-21. Our Reproductive Health Advocacy Fellow Dr. Pratima Gupta discusses why long-acting reversible contraceptives are a great option.

After being plagued by with a bad reputation and lack of awareness, long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) are finally gaining much-deserved momentum. The Guttmacher Institute recently reported that U.S. women are increasingly turning to highly effective LARC methods—particularly intrauterine devices (IUDs). According to the report, the IUD and the contraceptive implant use increased from about 9% in 2009 to nearly 12% in 2012.

As a physician, I can personally vouch for the fact that IUDs are the most popular method of birth control used by family planning practitioners — we know firsthand about their safety profile and efficacy. With failure rates of less than 1% per year, LARCs are the most effective reversible methods available.

Most women are excellent IUD candidates, regardless of age or whether they’ve had children or not. And depending on what IUD option they choose, they don’t need to worry about birth control for three, five, or 10 years.

Despite all of this great news, those of us who work in reproductive health and family planning still have to counter the misinformation, especially about IUDs, on a regular basis. Sometimes a patient will tell me that she’s interested in getting an IUD but that a friend told her that they were dangerous, or that she heard only women who have had kids can use them. I always explain what I know to be true: IUDs are safe and effective and appropriate for women of all ages.

The implant (Nexplanon®) is a popular method with my younger patients, which isn’t a surprise. In one large contraceptive study, over 40% of those surveyed under 18 opted for the implant. Smaller than a matchstick, it is discreet and hidden under the skin of the inner arm. It is an easy two-minute insertion that feels like getting a shot and doesn’t require a pelvic exam. It has the lowest failure rate of any form of contraception — 0.05% — and works for three years.

LARCs are fantastic—they’re highly effective and low-maintenance. But I always tell my patients that the best birth control method for them is the one that they choose for themselves—and the one they feel most comfortable using. That’s why we discuss all the options available, the full range of contraceptive methods, including LARC methods.

If you are a health care practitioner looking to learn more about LARC, here are some great resources:

 

PRESS RELEASE: Doctors Group Applauds Clarification on Birth Control Coverage

“Today’s announcement by the Administration says loud and clear that plans must cover the full range of contraceptive methods, and women’s health will be better for it.”

The Affordable Care Act has proven critical in improving women’s health, and in particular the provision that requires insurance companies cover birth control without a copay. However, recent studies have demonstrated that many insurers are not following the letter of the law. That is why Physicians for Reproductive Health applauds today’s announcement by the Obama Administration issuing guidance for insurers on contraceptive coverage, requiring that at least one of each 18 distinct birth control methods must be covered by all insurance plans.

Physicians for Reproductive Health board chair Nancy L. Stanwood, MD, MPH, issued the following statement:

“We applaud the White House for proactively addressing the health needs of women. While most private insurance plans under the ACA are required to cover all contraceptive care, too often plans fail to follow this mandate.

“As physicians, we have seen multiple cases of women being wrongfully denied contraceptive coverage they have paid for and are entitled to by law. Today’s announcement by the Administration says loud and clear that plans must cover the full range of contraceptive methods, and women’s health will be better for it.”

PHYSICIANS AVAILABLE FOR COMMENT

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Announcing the Newest Edition of Our Adolescent Health Curriculum

ARSHEPThe fifth edition of the Adolescent Reproductive and Sexual Health Education Program (ARSHEP) curriculum is now available! ARSHEP is our nationwide educational initiative aimed at teaching physicians more about adolescent reproductive and sexual health. In 2014 alone, members of the 45-person ARSHEP faculty delivered nearly 100 interactive lectures and workshops to over 10,000 health care professionals across the country.

The latest curriculum consists of 20 modules—including three all-new topics—that offer comprehensive, evidence-based information about adolescent reproductive and sexual health care. Topics include long-acting reversible contraception; STI testing and treatment; caring for pregnant and parenting adolescents; pregnancy options counseling; caring for LGBTQ adolescents; emergency contraception; and physicians as advocates for adolescent reproductive health.

The ARSHEP curriculum is available in modules you can download from our website.

If you are a health care professional who works with adolescents or educates other clinicians, we hope you’ll find the fifth edition of the ARSHEP curriculum a tremendous resource. 

LARC Awareness Week: For Teens, a Smart Birth Control Option

Kathleen Morrell MDLARC Awareness Week is November 16–22, 2014. Our Reproductive Health Advocacy Fellow Dr. Kathleen Morrell discusses why long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) are a great option for teens.

Over the summer, two sisters who were heading off to college came to my clinic. These two bright, talented, and determined young women were determined to get as much as they could out of the next four years. And they’re counting on their athletic scholarships for their college careers. They don’t want unintended pregnancy to stand in the way of their dreams. This is why they both requested intrauterine devices (IUDs) that day.

I see a lot of young women in my office for the same reason. Long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC), like IUDs and the implant, are a great option for teens who don’t want to worry about pregnancy. LARCs are the most effective reversible birth control methods we have, and as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology have noted, they are appropriate for teens.

IUDs are the most popular method of birth control used by family planning practitioners, which speaks to their safety and efficacy. Most women are excellent IUD candidates, regardless of age or whether they’ve had children or not. And depending on what IUD option they choose, they don’t need to worry about birth control for three, five, or ten years.

Despite all this, there is still a great deal of misinformation out there about IUDs in particular. Sometimes a patient will say that she’s interested in getting an IUD but that a friend told her that they were dangerous, or that she heard only women who have had kids can use them. I always explain what I know to be true: IUDs are safe and effective and appropriate for women of all ages.

The implant (Nexplanon®) is also popular with my younger patients. In one large contraceptive study, over 40% of those under 18 chose the implant. Smaller than a matchstick, it is discreet and hidden under the skin of the inner arm. It is an easy two-minute insertion that feels like getting a shot and doesn’t require a pelvic exam. It has the lowest failure rate of any form of contraception — 0.05% — and works for three years.

I want all my teen patients to leave my office with the birth control method that is right for them, which is why we discuss all the options available. If you are a health care practitioner looking to learn more about LARC and teens, here are some great resources: