ACOG Committee Opinion No. 735 Summary: Adolescents and Long-Acting Reversible Contraception

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Abstract

The phenomenon of adolescent childbearing is complex and far reaching, affecting not only the adolescents but also their children and their community. The prevalence and public health effect of adolescent pregnancy reflect complex structural social problems and an unmet need for acceptable and effective contraceptive methods in this population. In 2006–2010, 82% of adolescents at risk of unintended pregnancy were currently using contraception, but only 59% used a highly effective method, including any hormonal method or intrauterine device. Long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) have higher efficacy, higher continuation rates, and higher satisfaction rates compared with short-acting contraceptives among adolescents who choose to use them. Complications of intrauterine devices and contraceptive implants are rare and differ little between adolescents and women, which makes these methods safe for adolescents. Barriers to use of LARC by adolescents include patients’ lack of familiarity with or understanding about the methods, potentially high cost of initiation, lack of access, low parental acceptance, and obstetrician–gynecologists’ and other health care providers’ misconceptions about the safety of LARC use in adolescents. Because adolescents are at higher risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), obstetrician–gynecologists should continue to follow standard guidelines for STI screening. They should advise adolescents who choose LARC methods to use male or female condoms consistently (dual method use) to decrease the risk of STIs, including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Obstetrician–gynecologists should counsel all sexually active adolescents who do not seek pregnancy on the range of reversible contraceptive methods, including LARC, and should help make these contraceptives readily accessible to them.

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