Current Research and Policy on Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC): Key Points for Policymakers
Unintended pregnancy rates in the US – long considered a public health challenge – have recently started to decline, along with abortion and teen pregnancy rates. Recent data suggest that unintended pregnancy rates are at their lowest levels in the last several decades.1 Researchers attribute this drop to several different factors, including increased access to and use of more effective methods of contraception. Long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) methods demonstrate great potential in reducing unintended pregnancy, as they require virtually no user adherence. LARC methods* include two types of contraceptives: intrauterine devices (IUDs)† and subcutaneous hormone-releasing implants. Although LARC methods have had a rocky history in the US, newer LARC products have recently gained in popularity, potentially due to their lower rates of side effects, greater effectiveness, and broader acceptability among different populations of women. In June 2016, the Jacobs Institute of Women’s Health published a white paper summarizing the scientific evidence and current policy related to LARC methods. The full white paper with complete references is available at http://ow.ly/l4WH301I9yn. The following provides a summary of key points discussed in that white paper.