National Partnership for Women & Families

In the News

LARC Use Up Sharply Since 2002

CDC: LARC Use Up Sharply Since 2002

February 25, 2015 — The use of long-acting reversible contraceptives increased from 1.5% in 2002 to 7.2% between 2011 and 2013 among U.S. women ages 15 to 44, according to a new report from CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, Time reports (Sifferlin, Time, 2/14).

Background

LARC methods, including hormonal implants and intrauterine devices, have a very low failure rate, at less than 1%. By comparison, the failure rate for oral contraceptives is 9% and condoms' failure rate as a contraceptive is 18%, with typical use, according to CDC (Women's Health Policy Report, 12/12/14).

Some IUDs are effective for up to 10 years, while implants last about three years.

Key Findings

Researchers found that 11.1% of women ages 25 to 34 used LARCs between 2011 and 2013, compared with 5.3% of women ages 35 to 44 and 5% of women ages 15 to 24. LARC use increased among all age groups compared with 2002.

The report found that women from 2011 to 2013 who had at least one child were more likely to use LARCs than women who had not had children. However, increases in LARC use were greatest among women without children and adolescents (Painter, USA Today, 2/24).

Overall, LARC use increased among white, black and Hispanic women between 2006 and 2013 (Tanner, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 2/23). Further, NCHS researchers said that there was less difference in LARC use between women of different racial and ethnic groups than in the past (Reinberg, HealthDay, 2/24).

In terms of specific LARC methods, researchers found that IUD use among all women increased by 83% between 2006 and 2010 and 2011 and 2013, while hormonal implant use increased by about 300% over the same time period (Time, 2/24).

The report found that oral contraceptives remained the method used by the highest percentage of women, at 16%. However, study co-author Amy Branum said that the increase in LARC use "is a pretty significant change in the contraceptive world" (USA Today, 2/24).

Potential Reasons for, Implications of Increase in LARC Use

The NCHS report did not provide specific reasons for the increase in LARC use, according to the AP/San Francisco Chronicle. However, the findings suggest that newer hormonal implants that are effective for a similar amount of time as IUDs and newer IUD designs might have increased their appeal to women (AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 2/23).

Branum said that because of the effectiveness of LARC methods compared with oral contraceptives, "it's going to be fascinating to see what impact this will have on overall fertility rates and teen pregnancy" (USA Today, 2/24).

Survey: Docs More Likely To Use LARCs

In related news, 42% of U.S. providers of women's health care say they use LARC methods, compared with 12% of women in the general U.S. population, according to a new study published in Contraception, Politico's "Pulse" reports (Mershon et al., "Pulse," Politico, 2/24).

For the study, researchers polled 488 female family planning providers who were ages 25 to 44 between April 2013 and May 2013. They compared the results with findings for the general population of U.S. women ages 25 to 44 from the 2011 to 2013 National Survey of Family Growth (Stern et al., Contraception, 2/23).

The survey found that 67% of women's health care providers polled were using contraceptives. About 50% of respondents said that the largest factor in selecting their birth control method was effectively preventing pregnancy.

Lead researcher Ashlesha Patel said, "The difference in contraceptive choices between providers and the general population is even higher than we expected" (Thielking, Vox, 2/23).