May 2016
Featured Website!

Bedsider is an online birth control support network specifically targeted for women between the ages of 18 and 29. This site is operated by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy , a private non-profit organization. As an independent website, Bedsider's information about LARCs and other birth control methods is honest and unbiased. Their goal is to help women find the method of birth control that is right for them.
Pathway to CHOICE
The Contraceptive CHOICE Project
The Contraceptive CHOICE Project
Check out this video from the CHOICE Project and find out what happens when cost, education, and access barriers are removed, and women are able to choose the birth control method that is right for them.

LARC Resources
Click here to view an infographic that explains the benefits of using a Long Acting Reversible Contraceptive (LARC) method. 

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) offers a Long Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC) Program that provides a broad range of LARC resources, including clinical guidance, educational materials, and more. You can also sign up for their LARC Program e-newsletter to receive updates.

The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) launched the LARC Learning Community, a collaborative of six states, in August 2014 to assist state health agencies in implementing LARC, specifically via initiatives focusing on postpartum insertion following childbirth. View their site for materials documenting the challenges and barriers to increasing LARC access.

The Reproductive Health Access Project (RHAP) is a national organization that works directly with primary care providers, helping them integrate reproductive health services, including contraceptive counseling, into their practices so that everyone can receive this essential health care from their own primary care clinicians.

Advocates for Youth partners with youth leaders, adult allies, and youth-serving organizations to advocate for policies and champion programs that recognize young people's rights to honest sexual health information; accessible, confidential, and affordable sexual health services; and resources and opportunities necessary to create sexual health equity for all youth. Visit their site for reliable LARC information targeted for youth.

The Association of Reproductive Health Professionals' interactive Method Match tool is designed to help women narrow their birth control options based on the criteria that matter most to them. Understanding the options will help women to have an informed conversation with their health care provider about choosing the best birth control method for them.

Planned Parenthood delivers vital reproductive health care, sex education, and information to millions of people worldwide. For nearly 100 years, Planned Parenthood has promoted a commonsense approach to health and well-being, based on respect for each individual's right to make informed, independent decisions about health, sex, and family planning. Their website offers comprehensive information about each birth control method, including LARCs.
Need More Information?

View the Preconception Health and Health Care Initiative's newsletter for more on LARC methods. 

Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC)
It's May and that means Mother's Day is around the corner! Many of us are mothers, have mothers, or know mothers, and we give them all a round of applause. This Mother's Day also marks the start of National Women's Health Week! We want to use this time to remind women to take care of themselves, and to make their health -- including their reproductive health -- a priority. 

If you haven't had a baby or perhaps aren't ready for another one, you can live without the worry of an unplanned pregnancy by taking an active role in your reproductive health and learning about the most effective contraceptive options available: Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives.

What are LARCs?
Long-acting reversible contraceptives, otherwise known as LARCs, are the most effective methods of reversible birth control available. In fact, over the long term, LARC methods are 20 times more effective than birth control pills, the patch, or the ring. In addition to being highly effective, these methods last anywhere from 3-10 years and are easy to use. Plus, if a woman wants to become pregnant or wants to stop using them, she can have them removed at any time by a medical professional.

What are Considered LARC Methods?
LARC methods include the intrauterine device (IUD) and the birth control implant. There are three types of hormone-releasing IUDs and one that is composed of copper and completely hormone-free.
MirenaThis popular IUD is made of plastic and releases a small amount of hormone into the uterus to help keep sperm from passing through the cervix. This IUD option lasts for up to 5 years and may result in lighter periods.

SkylaThis plastic IUD is the smallest one available and has been FDA-approved for women who have not had a child. Compared to Mirena, Skyla releases a smaller amount of hormone into the uterus, but is just as effective! This one works for up to 3 years.

LilettaLiletta is the newest IUD and works the same way as Mirena and Skyla, by releasing a steady, low level of hormone into the uterus. Liletta contains a similar amount of hormone to Mirena and releases it at a similar rate, but lasts for 3 years.

ParaGard: ParaGard is a completely hormone-free version of the IUD. Its plastic frame has copper wire coiled around the stem, which continuously releases safe amounts of copper into the uterus. The copper is toxic to sperm. This IUD option can prevent pregnancy for up to 10 years.

NexplanonThis contraceptive implant is a small, soft, flexible rod, just 4 centimeters in length that provides up to 3 years of continuous pregnancy prevention. This one is placed by a health care provider discreetly under the skin on the inside of the upper arm. 

What are the Benefits of Using a LARC Method?
There are a number of benefits associated with using a LARC method. For starters, almost all women are able to use an IUD or implant, and either can be inserted immediately after childbirth or miscarriage, and even while breastfeeding. They are also incredibly discreet and do not interfere with daily activities. If a woman wants to become pregnant or if she wants to stop using LARCs for any reason, she can simply have it removed.

Important Considerations
While it can be easy for health care providers and others to get excited about promoting LARCs, it is essential that all women received complete and accurate information, that there is equal financial access to all methods, and that no one receives a LARC method without access to resources to have it removed. Reproductive justice considerations push us to review our counseling methods, language, and even metrics for success when it comes to LARC. 
Myths & Misconceptions

Myth: IUDs cause pelvic inflammatory disease --IUDs do not appear to increase the risk of upper-genital infections that can lead to PID. Some of the concern about PID with the IUD is a result of the poor outcomes associated with the Dalkon Shield; its major design flaws allowed bacteria into the uterus. The current IUD's design does not increase the user's risk of pelvic infection.

Myth: LARCs cause ectopic pregnancy -- Paragard, Mirena, and Nexplanon lower the risk of ectopic pregnancy just as they decrease the risk of pregnancy overall. In the unlikely event that a woman becomes pregnant using a LARC method, she may have an increased likelihood of having an ectopic pregnancy.

Myth: IUDs won't fit in my uterus -- Clinicians and patients express concerns about the size of IUDs for women who have never had children, but no literature demonstrates a difference in risk of complications according to the size of the IUD. There is no existing evidence that precludes nulliparous women from using a LARC method.

Myth: Implants and IUDs cause cancer -- Neither the implant nor IUDs have been shown to cause cancer. Instead, copper- and hormone-containing IUDs have demonstrated a potential protective effect against endometrial cancer. One recent study has also demonstrated that copper IUDs may have a protective effect against cervical cancer.

Misconception: Parental consent is required -- According to the Guttmacher Institute, 21 states specifically allow minors to consent to contraceptive services including IUD insertions, 4 states have no explicit policy on this issue, and 25 states permit minors to consent under certain circumstances such as being previously pregnant or facing a health risk with unintended pregnancy.
New Blog Post!

Jane E. Brody is the Personal Health columnist for The New York Times. Her award-winning column is published in The Times's Science Times section every Tuesday and in many other newspapers around the country. In a recent piece, she discusses how IUDs and hormonal implants remain underused contraceptives.

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