Despite advances and choices in contraceptive technology, unintended pregnancy rates continue to be a problem. According to the Guttmacher Institute, about half (49%) of the 6.7 million pregnancies in the United States each year are unintended. The U.S unintended pregnancy rate is much higher than the rate in many other developed countries.
To help promote effective use of contraception and make access easier, the CDC (Center for Disease Control) has adopted the WHO’s (World Health Organization) selected practice recommendations for Contraceptive Use (http://viajwat.ch/lab3ma4) for U.S. clinical settings.
What this means is that women don’t have to go through as many exams (which are time consuming and expensive) as they once did to receive birth control. Some of the highlights of these guidelines are:
1. No lab testing prior to starting contraception.
2. No physical exam beyond a blood pressure check is needed prior to starting a birth control pill.
3. Screening for cervical cancer (pap smear) is not needed before placement of an IUD.
4. If a woman develops a pelvic infection while having an IUD in place, she can be treated with antibiotics without removing the IUD.
These resources along with the Affordable Care Act’s mission to remove cost as a barrier to contraceptive choice, offers increased use of effective reversible contraceptives in hopes in reducing rates of unintended pregnancy.
Resources: Schwarz, E. Contraceptive Practice Recommendations Tailored for Use in the U.S. Journal Watch: Medicine that Matters 2013 July; Vol. 18, No. 7.
Guttmacher Institute. Unintended Pregnancy in the United States. October 2013.