Health officials urge long-term contraceptives

A new study recommends increased awareness of IUDs and hormonal implants.

Beesma Dabaan

About half  of pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned.
But a national women’s health care association has suggestions for reducing that figure.
A recent American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists study recommends that OB-GYNs encourage women to consider reversible contraceptives, specifically intrauterine devices and hormonal implants.
The OB-GYN report lists IUDs and implants as some of the most effective birth control methods. But the report suggests women are not familiar with or interested in these form of birth control.
“Most females see a primary care provider at a young age, and it’s not until they are older do they start seeing a gynecologist, who then informs them about the various
contraceptive methods available to them,” said Anna Cioffi, president of Nursing Students for Reproductive Health.
She said the student group hosts discussions and awareness events to make using IUDs less taboo.
Selection of hormonal implants and IUDs among women who use contraception increased from 6 percent between 2006 and 2010 to 11.6 percent between 2011 and 2013, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study released Tuesday.
Cioffi said she thinks women in college tend not to use IUDs because they think insurance doesn’t cover them, and they see pills and condoms as cheaper.
According to American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists report, some OB-GYNs recommend long-acting reversible contraception like IUDs because they are anxious about the outcomes some may have on young women who have never been pregnant.
“I think these providers are reluctant to offer these methods of contraception because they think the IUDs and implants are the same as those that came out 20 years ago,” Nursing Professor Renee Sieving said. “They aren’t the same anymore because they don’t cause infections or diseases of any sort.”
Sieving said a common myth is that IUDs cause infertility, which also makes OB-GYNs reluctant to recommend the devices.
Over the past 20 years, the IUD has undergone multiple changes, including becoming available without hormones attached to the T-shaped device, which could interfere with naturally produced hormones and cause pelvic inflammatory disease.
Many young women ask their providers if the insertion of an IUD or implant is painful, said Julie Strickland, the Chair of the ACOG’s Committee on Adolescent Health Care in an email.
“You may feel a cramping-like pain when the IUD is inserted and immediately after, but most women don’t find it to be severe,” she said in the email.
As for the implants, Strickland said a local anesthetic is applied before they’re inserted in the upper arm.
“I think IUDs and hormonal implants, or LARCs, are one of the most effective ways of birth control. There is no hassle of forgetting to take a pill one day or anything like that,” Cioffi said.