LARCs have advantage in preventing teen pregnancy

June 1, 2012

Long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) are significantly more effective than oral contraceptive pills, rings, or patches in preventing unintended pregnancy in adolescent girls and young women, a large prospective cohort study from Washington University School of Medicine reports.

Long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) are significantly more effective than oral contraceptive pills, rings, or patches in preventing unintended pregnancy in adolescent girls and young women, a large prospective cohort study from Washington University School of Medicine (St. Louis, Missouri) reports.

Because more than half of all unplanned pregnancies in the United States are related to inconsistent or incorrect use of contraceptives, the 4-year study focused on identifying whether LARCs (intrauterine devices [IUDs] or implants) could be more effective than other commonly prescribed forms of contraception-pills, patches, rings, and injections-in preventing contraceptive failure.

More than 9,000 sexually active participants between the ages of 14 and 45 who weren't currently using a contraceptive method and who wanted to avoid pregnancy for at least a year were provided with counseling about reversible contraception and were offered free reversible contraception for 3 years (5,090 participants) or 2 years (4,166 participants). All had the opportunity to change or discontinue methods throughout the follow-up period. They were interviewed about demographics, sexual history, missed menses, and sexual activity at enrollment, at 3 and 6 months, and at 6-month intervals thereafter. A total of 7,486 women met the study criteria.

Winner B, Peipert JF, Zhao Q, et al. Effectiveness of long-acting reversible contraception. New Engl J Med. 2012;366(21):1998-2007.