Gynecology Specialists Note
An important new study on long-acting forms of contraception was recently released and reported on by the media. Drs. Leao, Long and Ryder agree with the main points of the study and the following article. Our in-office care includes implants, the 3-month shot, and IUDs. If you have questions about your birth control choices, please call us at (757) 312-8221.
Long-Lasting Birth Control Cuts Pregnancy Rate
By Jennifer Corbett Dooren, The Wall Street Journal – 5/23/2012
A new study confirms that long-acting forms of contraception such as intrauterine devices and implants are better than birth control pills and patches at preventing pregnancies, giving doctors new ammunition to recommend these methods.
The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, involved about 7,500 women in a project promoting long-acting birth control to reduce unintended pregnancies. There are an estimated three million unplanned pregnancies a year in the U.S., often because of incorrect or inconsistent use of contraception, and about 1.2 million abortions, according to research cited with the study.
The Contraceptive Choice project is being run by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The study was funded by the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, a charity of Warren Buffett, chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
The study found that long-acting contraception is about 20 times more effective at preventing pregnancy than pills, patches or vaginal rings because those methods "wipe out the human error factor," said Dr. Jeffrey Peipert, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Washington University. "IUDs and implants are more effective because women can forget about them after clinicians put the devices in place."
Failure rates for such methods are less than 1% but they require an office procedure and can cost patients several hundred dollars if not paid for by insurance, doctors said.
Hormonal implants are inserted under the skin of the upper arm and are effective for three years. IUDs are inserted into the uterus and last five or 10 years, depending on the type. IUDs and implants can be removed if women want to try to become pregnant. Dr. Peipert said fertility returns immediately in most women.
Birth control pills are the most commonly used contraceptive in the U.S., but women need to take the pills daily for them to be fully effective. Other studies have shown that many women—especially teenagers—miss two or more pills per menstrual cycle, which cuts the effectiveness at preventing pregnancy. The study also included a hormone-based shot that can be given to women every three months to prevent pregnancy.
The study showed pregnancy—or failure rates—among participants who used the pill, patch, or ring were 4.8%, 7.8% and 9.4% in years one, two and three of the study respectively, while the failure rates in those using IUDs or implants were all below 1% during the same period. Failure rates for women receiving the three-month hormone shot also were less than 1%.
Dr. Peipert said he hopes the results prompt more women and doctors who counsel women on birth control to consider IUDs and implants because it could greatly reduce unintended pregnancies. "If there were a drug for cancer, heart disease or diabetes that was 20 times more effective we would recommend it first," he said.
Dr. Erika Banks, director of gynecology at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, N.Y., said, "For a woman who wants to get pregnant in a short period of time, it may not be worth the cost of having a long-acting method placed." Dr. Banks, who wasn't involved in the study, added that some insurance plans will only cover pills, patches or vaginal rings.
Still, she said, the long-acting methods can be an "excellent" option for young women who don't want to become pregnant for several years.
Dr. Peipert trains doctors on how to implant a contraceptive device made by Merck Co. and Washington University receives fees from the company, according to the New England Journal of Medicine article.
The Contraceptive Choice study involves women who were between ages 14 and 45 who initially weren't using contraception or wanted to switch birth-control methods, from August 2007 through last September. The women also said they didn't want to become pregnant for the next 12 months.
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If you have questions about contraception, intrauterine devices, birth control, birth control pills, birth control patches, long-acting birth control, gynecology, hormonal implants, IUDs, or contraceptive choices and live in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Eastern Shore, Peninsula, Hampton Roads or North Carolina, please contact our GYN clinic at (757) 312-8221. Our GYN doctors are here to help you.
About our GYN Clinic
Our three female GYN doctors and Nurse Practitioner provide comprehensive gynecology services to women and girls of all ages in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Eastern Shore, Peninsula, Hampton Roads and North Carolina. Our health care includes contraception, intrauterine devices, birth control, birth control pills, birth control patches, long-acting birth control, gynecology, hormonal implants, IUDs, contraceptive choices,