Why Your Practice Should Offer Multiple Forms of Birth Control
A new era in women’s health began in 1960. This was the year that birth control pills came to market in the U.S. For the first time, women had relatively easy access to a reliable, discrete form of birth control. Sixty years later, today’s contraception options have expanded to include a wide range of methods. Now there is a birth control option available to meet every woman’s needs.
It is important for today’s clinical practices to offer multiple forms of birth control to their patients. When women are presented with all of the available options, they feel both informed and confident. They know they are receiving healthcare at a comprehensive, modern practice. When providers themselves are not knowledgeable about current methods or must refer out for contraception, they risk losing patients to other practices. There is also the risk that their practices will come to have an outdated reputation.
Considerations When Choosing a Birth Control Method
Some women have done their own research and know exactly what form of birth control they want. Others may be overwhelmed by the number of options available to them, especially if this is the first time they are using contraception. Still, others have existing health conditions and may wonder what options will be safe for them to use.
When women are uncertain and need more information, clinicians have the opportunity to help educate women about their choices. When reviewing birth control methods, both women and their doctors should keep these points in mind:
What are the failure rates for both “perfect use” and “typical use”? Are these rates acceptable to the woman?
How long does it take to reverse the method? This is an important factor for women who may want to become pregnant in the near future.
Is the method covered by their insurance? What are the out-of-pocket costs? Can it be purchased over the counter or is a prescription needed?
Is the contraceptive easy to use? Does it require any planning or preparation prior to each act of intercourse? Is the method easy to refill or purchase more of?
Protection Against STDs
Does the woman have multiple sexual partners? Does she need a barrier method to protect against STDs?
Existing Health Conditions
Is the contraceptive safe for the woman to use? Some health conditions may be a contraindication to certain forms of birth control, especially hormonal methods.
Religious or Cultural Considerations
Does the method fall in line with any religious or cultural beliefs the woman has?
Potential Side Effects
All forms of contraception carry some risk of complications. Is the woman aware of the side effects and what signs or symptoms to watch for?
Choosing a birth control method is a personal decision. When a woman has all the facts, she can make the best choice for her. In recent years, there has been a rise in IUD, or intrauterine device, use.
Intrauterine Devices Are a Popular Choice for Many
Many women like both the convenience and effectiveness that an intrauterine device offers. With an IUD, there are no pills to remember or prescriptions to refill. When placed by a health professional, the device works exactly as it claims to and offers several years of “perfect use” effectiveness.
Depending on the type and brand of IUD chosen, the devices offer anywhere from three to 12 years worth of contraception. They are a great option for women who want long-term birth control. In addition, IUDs can be removed by a professional at any time if a woman encounters side effects or decides she wants to become pregnant. IUDs are available in two forms:
- Hormonal IUDs work by slowly releasing the hormone progestin to prevent pregnancy. Progestin is also found in some oral contraceptives. The hormone prevents pregnancy by suppressing ovulation, thickening cervical mucus, and thinning the uterine lining.
- Copper IUDs are effective because the metal is an effective spermicide and is toxic to sperm.
Intrauterine devices are highly effective, with a failure of less than one percent.
More Women Want IUDs, but Not All Practices Offer Them
Intrauterine devices have a complex history in the U.S. There was relatively high use in the 1970s. Many women liked the inherent reliability and convenience that IUDs offered.
IUDs soon fell out of favor after serious side effects with the Dalkon Shield were reported. The Dalkon Shield was a crab-shaped IUD that is larger than today’s T-shaped IUDs. Some users had serious complications including pelvic infections, infertility, and septic pregnancies. It was eventually pulled from the market and was the target of several lawsuits. After the fallout from the Dalkon Shield, IUD use in the U.S. was at an all-time low in the mid-1990s.
The IUDs on the market now are safer and interest in the devices have seen a resurgence. According to the December 2018 issue of the journal Contraception, 12% of all women in the U.S. who use a birth control method have an IUD placed.
But for some clinicians, old myths have lingered long after the Dalkon Shield was pulled from the market. According to the Washington Post article, “Why do some doctors refuse to give women IUDs?,” some doctors erroneously believe that IUDs are not safe to use on women and adolescents who have never given birth. Still other practitioners have concerns over IUDs potentially being an abortion method. IUDs work by preventing sperm from fertilizing an egg, but they do not interfere with the implantation of a fertilized egg.
Single-Use IUD Insertion Kit by obp
Practitioners best serve their patients when they are aware of the current facts and data surrounding birth control methods. Practices offering IUDs can go one step further by using obp’s single-use IUD insertion kit. Single-use equipment gives both the doctor and the patient peace of mind by eliminating cross-contamination risks.
Practices also save money and time by not sending any medical equipment for reprocessing. In addition, the side-opening vaginal speculum has an integrated LED light source. That means practitioners never have to worry about recharging batteries or fumbling with exterior light sources.
To learn more about obp’s single-use medical devices, contact us.