LARC

Happy Fact Friday Followers!

The New England Journal of Medicine released a new study on the use of long-acting, reversible contraception (LARC) methods among teenage girls and women aged 15 to 19 years old.

“This study shows that the IUD and implant help reduce teen pregnancy,” said Dr. Vanessa Cullins, vice president of external medical affairs for Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “These methods are great birth control options for women who want the best possible pregnancy prevention and aren’t yet ready to start a family. IUDs and implants are safe for most women, including adolescents and women who have not yet had children…”

At Planned Parenthood, we offer every woman the full range of contraceptive options — including the IUD and the implant — and complete information to help her make an informed decision about which method is best for her. IUDs and implants have extremely low failure rates — less than one percent — which rival the rates seen with permanent birth control. And unlike permanent birth control, your ability to get pregnant returns quickly once the device is removed.

Long-acting reversible contraception doesn’t require women to remember to do something every day to prevent pregnancy, like taking the pill — or just before intercourse, or once a month, or even every three months, like other methods.

One important thing to remember for people of all ages is that these methods don’t protect you from sexually transmitted diseases, so using condoms in addition to another form of birth control is the best way to prevent both pregnancy and STDs.

Planned Parenthood wants all young people to have the information and resources they need to prevent unintended pregnancy, meet their life goals, and start their families when the time is right for them. We hope this study helps raise awareness about the safety and efficacy of IUDs and implants among women of all ages, and especially among young women.

My IUD and Me: A Love Story

I recently got the ParaGard IUD and IT’S THE BEST. Why? Because it’s a “set it and forget it” birth control method — no remembering to take a pill or change a patch, no room for error. And those little T-shaped miracle workers can prevent pregnancy for up to 12 years.  (Of course, you can have it taken out whenever if you decide it’s go-time for a family or want to switch to a different method.)

Here’s how my IUD and me came to be:

1. I made an appointment with my gyno to talk about whether ParaGard was right for me. While I was there, my doc did a vaginal swab to test me for gonorrhea and chlamydia. 

2. When I decided 100% that I wanted that little copper sperm blocker, I called my insurance company to see what was covered and how much I would have to pay out of pocket (spoiler alert: $0 — thanks Obamacare!).

3. When I got my period, I called my gyno and scheduled my appointment for the next day. (Some docs want you to have your period when they put it in because the cervix is dilated more when you’re menstruating).

4. The night before my procedure, I vaginally inserted a prescription cervix-dilating pill before hitting the hay.

5. When I arrived at my gyno’s office, I took a quick pregnancy test. It was negative, so operation IUD was officially on. 

6. Time to get down to business: First, my doctor measured my uterus. Anytime anything goes past your cervix, you’re going to feel a cramp. Not gonna lie, it was intense. But I breathed through it, preoccupied by the knowledge that my uterus is 7 inches long (fun fact).

7. My doctor inserted the ParaGard, cut the strings, and BAM. My uterus is a no-fly zone.  The whole insertion took less than five minutes. I did have some cramping throughout the rest of the day, but I was good to go the next morning.

Since getting the ParaGard, I’ve noticed that my periods are heavier with more cramping than I’m used to. My periods also last maybe a day or two longer, but this is totally normal. My doc said that after about three months, my period should return to normal. And let’s be real — a few crampy periods are a great trade off for 12 years of worry-free living. My uterus couldn’t be happier with this brand spanking new toy.

In a few weeks I’ll go back in for a follow up appointment to make sure the ParaGard is still there and in the right place. After that, they’ll check it at my yearly gyno exam.

If you want to get an IUD and you’re worried about cost, fear not! Obamacare means you get free preventive care that includes birth control through your insurance. My $950 IUD+my $40 copay = totally free.

Word of advice? Don’t forget the condoms! Yeah IUDs are 99% effective against pregnancy, but they’re 0% effective at preventing STDs.  So condoms + my IUD = healthy me.

Want to get your own IUD? Get more info here, and then contact your local Planned Parenthood health center to set up an appointment. 

—Chelsea at Planned Parenthood

Did you know that there are some birth control methods that can last for as long as 3, 5, or even 12 years! That’s a fact!

One kind of long-term method is called an IUD which stands for Intrauterine Device. IUDs are small T-shaped devices that are placed in the uterus by a health care provider to prevent pregnancy. IUD are over 99% effective in preventing pregnancy.

There are currently 2 different kinds of IUDS: Hormonal and Copper.

Hormonal IUDs

  • Mirena IUDs contain hormones that prevent eggs from leaving the ovaries and meeting with sperm. They can work to prevent pregnancy for up to 5 years.
  • Skyla IUDs work in the same way as Mirena IUDs, but they are a little smaller and have a slightly lower-dose of hormones. They can work to prevent pregnancy for up to 3 years.

Copper IUDs (Paragard) have a small amount of copper that changes the way sperm move so they can’t reach an egg. They can work for up to 12 years.

IUDs are effective for both teens and adults. Someone does not need to have given birth to use an IUD. If you think an IUD might be a good method for you talk to your health care provider or visit a Planned Parenthood Health Center.

Long-term contraception more effective than pills

(Reuters) - A large real-life test of birth control methods found more U.S. women got pregnant while using short-acting methods such as pills, patches and vaginal rings – and the failure rate was highest when they were used by women under 21.

In a new study published on Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, about 7,500 women and teens in the St. Louis area were allowed to pick from a variety of contraception methods at no cost.

Over the course of the study – more than three years for women who completed all follow-up interviews – participants had a total of 334 unintended pregnancies. For the full study, see: bit.ly/KdMCQp

“We found that participants using oral contraceptive pills, a transdermal patch or a vaginal ring had a risk of contraceptive failure that was 20 times as high as the risk among those using long-acting reversible contraception,” said the research team, led by Dr. Brooke Winner of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Long-term contraception methods include intrauterine devices (IUDs), hormone shots and skin implants.

Previous research had suggested that more women have unintended pregnancies when they use contraception that requires daily or weekly use.

But those findings came from national surveys where women tried to remember when they became pregnant and which contraceptive method they were using three or four years earlier.

“If I try to remember what I had for dinner two days ago, I can’t,” Winner told Reuters Health. “So you can imagine that those retrospective studies are not very reliable.”

In the study led by Winner, some of the unplanned pregnancies occurred when women weren’t using their chosen contraception and instead relied on a condom or the pull-out method, in which the male withdraws before ejaculation.

Still, among about 1,500 women who chose to use a contraceptive pill, patch or ring, between 4 and 5 percent became pregnant while using those methods each year.

In comparison, 0.3 percent – about one in 330 – of the 5,800 women who opted for an IUD or skin implant had an unplanned pregnancy each year because of contraceptive failure.

Just 176 women chose to get Depo-Provera hormone shots every three months, and two of them became pregnant during the study.

Depending on the brand, IUDs can prevent pregnancy for five to 10 years. Skin implants last for three years.

AGE IMPACTS RATE OF UNPLANNED PREGNANCIES

The effectiveness of the methods varied with age: women under the age of 21 who used pills, the patch or a vaginal ring had almost twice as many unintended pregnancies as older women who used those methods, the researchers reported.

Half of all pregnancies in the United States are now unintended – about 3 million annually, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About half of those, in turn, are in women who have been using contraception and either do not use it properly, or the method fails. Of those unintended pregnancies, 1.2 million or so lead to abortions.

The rate of unintended pregnancies in the United States tends to be higher than in other developed nations, the researchers said.

They found that women who asked for pills, a patch or a ring were less likely to have given birth before or have had an unintended pregnancy, abortion or sexually transmitted disease compared with participants who selected other methods.

IUDs and implants usually cost more than $500 and typically aren’t covered by insurance, she said.

“Nationally, only about 5 percent are using long-lasting methods like IUDs and implants. We know one of the barriers to why they’re not using them more frequently is up-front costs,” Winner added.

“One of the beauties of this study is that it shows that when you take cost out of the equation and you educate women objectively and effectively, about 75 percent of them chose a long-acting method,” she said.

“If that many women were using these products nationally, there would be a very significant drop in unintended pregnancies, which would have far-reaching effects.”

From: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/23/us-birthcontrol-idUSBRE84M1IQ20120523

Just a couple extra notes from us: If you are a young person who wants an IUD and your healthcare provider is telling you you cannot have one on the basis of never having been pregnant or delivered, PLEASE know, as we’ve said before, that is outdated information.  Very.  You can either ask your provider to please review the current guidelines OR seek out a different provider more current in their education and practice.


Also, we’ve previously quoted data which shows that for teens, specifically, birth control pills can be MUCH less effective than for older people, potentially as low as only 45% effective in typical use.  As you may have experienced, BC pills are often what many healthcare providers will give to people first asking about contraception, so if you aren’t very sure you really can take a pill around the same time, every single day over months or years (and you can do an easy test of that by seeing if you can take a multivitamin at the same time daily for a couple months) – and typically how well a young person uses the pill declines after the first few pill packs – and/or back up the pill with a second method, like condoms, do yourself a favor and ask your provider to tell you about ALL available methods. And again, if your provider won’t do that, seek out a new provider.  You can always ask us for help finding one: we’re always glad to help you do that.