Long acting birth control for teenagers...a necessary new trend...

What is LARC?

LARC stand for long acting reversible contraception. LARC  is significantly more effective in preventing pregnancy than birth control pills and other methods for which compliance of using is variable. Two types of LARC are available in the form of IUD or implantable rods. They are safe, effective and women like them.

Both provide the most effective forms of birth control available and have drastically reduced the risk of unintended pregnancy. Unintended pregnancy is devastating to a teen let alone any woman. Pregnancy at this age can pose health risk as well as be emotionally devastating to the family unit. Unintended pregnancies raise the number of abortions which also have many health consequences. LARC is safe for women of all ages including teens and many times have less emotional side effects than birth control pills in the teen population where anxiety and depression are a risk. In addition it is easy to remove LARC any time in our office with a brief appointment when you are ready to get pregnant.

All teens should be counseled at their first visit about LARC when discussing birth control options. Birth control pills which have been traditionally the first line of contraception have had many problems. With perfect use (meaning robotic timing of taking the pill) the pill is only 97% effective in preventing pregnancy. This means 3 out of 100 teens can can pregnant on birth control pills. Considering I am a mother who has raised teen girls - robotic scheduling of taking meds is often not possible. Sleeping in on weekends, missing pills, losing pill packs are all common. This leads to contraception failure rate and unintended pregnancy. It also leads to side effects like break-through bleeding which often is so troubling to the teen that they stop taking their birth control pills. Also concerning is the risk of depression on birth control pills. It is well documented that the vast increase in social media leaves teens vulnerable to anxiety and depression. Birth control pills can make these emotional symptoms worse.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has endorsed IUDs in adolescent women (less than age 20). IN addition, The American College of Obstetrician and Gynecologists has endorsed IUDs in women who have never had babies (nulliparous women) as a first form of birth control. This was originally shocking as we historically only offered IUDs to women who were done having children but didn’t want sterilization. However there are many different sized IUDs available now to accommodate this change. Teens are using these methods safely and the rate of unwanted pregnancy has dropped.

There has traditionally been a barrier for women to get LARC as these forms of birth control require special training and certification. Hibiscus Women’s Center has many providers in the practice who are qualified to provide these services to women in a timely manner of all ages.

Michelle Liddy, CNM