FORMERLY PHYSICIANS FOR REPRODUCTIVE CHOICE AND HEALTH

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:

Fall 2014 Newsletter: Physicians on the Ground and in the Classroom

2015 LTA DCcrop In our Fall 2014 Newsletter, we discuss ballot initiative results, welcome Adolescent Reproductive and Sexual Health Education Program (ARSHEP) faculty members, and celebrate our Leadership Training Academy. Read more >>

Tennessee, Colorado, North Dakota: Our Doctors on Ballot Initiative Results

Kathleen Morrell MDYesterday, three states — Colorado, North Dakota and Tennessee — voted on ballot initiatives affecting women’s access to safe and legal abortion. Our Reproductive Health Advocacy Fellow Dr. Kathleen Morrell has issued a statement:

“It is difficult to express how disappointed we are in the outcome in Tennessee. As physicians who care for women, our foremost concern is protecting our patients’ health and safety, and nothing about Amendment 1 furthers those interests. In fact, the measures that will likely result from this change to Tennessee’s constitution could jeopardize the health of Tennessee women by restricting their access to abortion. Additionally, given the reproductive rights landscape of neighboring states, the impact of this Amendment will likely be felt by women across the Southeast.... We are thankful that voters in Colorado and North Dakota voted to protect women’s health, rejecting so-called personhood initiatives. They saw through the misleading campaigns and resoundingly defeated measures that would have endangered women’s access to abortion.

Read the entire statement here.

Dr. Stanwood to Politicians: Get Out of Our Exam Rooms

Our board chair, Dr. Nancy L. Stanwood, spoke on a panel at a Yale Law School event titled "Public Health in the Shadow of the First Amendment." Dr. Stanwood addressed the profound harm caused by legislation that interferes with the doctor-patient relationship, particularly as it pertains to reproductive health care:

"The practice of medicine by legislators who have no medical background and have an ideological agenda is incredibly damaging to the profession of medicine, and I'm hoping that more physicians will see this, and that it's not just those of us who … provide abortion services for patients but that other doctors will also see this."

Watch the 11-minute video of her talk here or on YouTube.