Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives use by teens on the rise, still not enough

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Centers_for_Disease_Control_and_Prevention_logoIn MMWR, its weekly report, the CDC presented somewhat encouraging statistics about the use of long acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) hormonal implants and IUDs by teens between 2005 and 2013. Initially, only 0.4 percent of teens (15-19 years old) used LARCS; by 2013 that number had risen to over 7 percent. As we ve noted recently, this mirrors trends seen among all adult women of reproductive age.

The authors of the report, led by Dr. Lisa Romero of the CDC, examined the use of LARCs by teens seeking contraception at Title X service sites. They found that in 2013, among over 600,000 teens seeking service at these sites, about 3 percent used IUDs and about 4 percent opted for hormonal implants. The benefits of LARCs are primarily their effectiveness (a pregnancy rate of less than 1 percent in the first year of use), and the fact that they do not require any specific action once they have been inserted.

Although the popularity of IUDs dropped in the 1970s when concerns about their safety was widespread, their use has been increasing recently. And their use by healthy adult women has been endorsed by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Dr. Romero and colleagues encouraged the use of LARC by teens, and suggested that centers can facilitate such use by:

  • educating providers that LARC is safe for teens
  • training providers on LARC insertion
  • providing contraception at reduced or no cost

Of course, commented ACSH s Dr. Ruth Kava, teens must also receive information about protection from sexually transmitted diseases, since LARCs do not prevent their transmission. But the increasing use of LARCs is likely at least partially responsible for the declining rate of births to teen mothers that we ve seen in recent years.