Nearly 37 percent of pregnancies in the U.S from 2006 to 2010 were unplanned and while there's limited statistics on abortion, it is estimated that about half of these pregnancies were terminated suggesting that a number of women do not have successful experience or have difficulty accessing birth control.
A new study, however, has revealed that by just informing women seeking family planning advice about hormonal implants and IUDs (intrauterine devices) as options for birth control, healthcare providers can dramatically help reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies.
For the new study published in the journal The Lancet on June 16, Cynthia Harper, from the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, and colleagues tested if educating health workers about long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) and how to discuss them with women could lead to increased use of the method and decreased rate of unwanted pregnancies.
LARCs, which include injections, IUDs and subdermal implants, are considered the most effective method of birth control with less than 1 percent failure rate. Birth control pills and use of condoms, on the other hand have failure rates of 9 percent and 18 percent respectively. Despite their effectiveness, LARCs are not often discussed or available in clinics.
Harper and colleagues trained providers at 20 Planned Parenthood clinics and involved 1,500 women who were given contraceptive counseling. The women, who were considered as high risk for unintended pregnancy, watched educational video as part of the enhanced counseling as well as told about the effectiveness of IUDs and implants compared with traditional contraceptive methods.
The researchers found that the women who received counseling from the newly trained health providers tend to choose implant as their contraception method compared with the patients who did not receive the information on purpose.
It also appears that the counseling had dramatic effect on the pregnancy rate as the researchers saw a nearly 50 percent decrease in unwanted pregnancies among the women who received the counseling for birth control compared with the women who were given the usual counseling.
Based on their findings, the researchers said that the rate of unwanted pregnancy can be reversed by providing women advice on LARCs.
"The pregnancy rate was lower in intervention group than in the control group after family planning visits," the researchers wrote. "The pregnancy rate can be reduced by provision of counselling on long-term reversible contraception and access to devices during family planning counselling visits."