Use of Long-Acting Reversible Contraception by Obstetrics and Gynecology Residents: An Examination of Access for All Women


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Abstract

Although long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) use is increasing in the general female population, only 12% of all women who use contraception and 4.8% of nulliparous women in the United States use either the intrauterine device (IUD) or contraceptive implant. In several studies, however, female physicians prefer LARC for contraception. In 2016, an anonymous electronic survey was administered to all U.S. obstetrics and gynecology residents before the start of the annual in-training examination administered by the Council on Resident Education in Obstetrics and Gynecology. The survey included questions about LARC, including personal use. Fifty percent of female residents or the female partners of male residents used IUDs for contraception, 31.3% used combined oral contraceptives, and 3% used a contraceptive implant. Among nulliparous residents, 37.7% used IUDs. This rate of IUD use was five times the rate reported by the general female population and eight times the nulliparous rate in the United States. Obstetrics and gynecology residents understand the benefits of LARC, but have minimal barriers to access. When barriers and cost are removed and the full range of contraceptive options is offered, the majority of contracepting women and adolescents choose LARC. With the high rates of unintended pregnancy and maternal morbidity and mortality in the United States—especially among poor and minority women—all women, regardless of income, race–ethnicity, and career, should have awareness of and access to these effective contraceptive methods.

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