The condom has long been the most recognizable symbol of contraception, while daily birth control regimens have become so ubiquitous that they’ve co-opted the term “the pill.” But studies have shown that Long-Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARCs) are actually the most effective method of preventing teen pregnancy.
In the hopes of increasing awareness of these devices, physicians, nurses, and coordinators at the Hoekelman Center at UR Medicine’s Golisano Children’s Hospital have launched a campaign to educate providers on the advantages of LARCs.
“LARCs are better than pills, patches, and other contraceptives because they remain in place all the time,” said Katherine Greenberg, M.D., an adolescent medicine specialist at Golisano Children’s Hospital. “Today’s LARCs are safe, effective, invisible, and can be easily removed with no lingering effects when you decide to become pregnant.”
LARCs, which include intrauterine devices (commonly referred to as IUDs) and hormone-release implants that are placed in the upper arm, can guard against pregnancy for 3 to 12 years. The devices recently became the official recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics for teens seeking birth control.
With Rochester’s teen pregnancy rate among the highest in the country, the LARC Initiative is hoping to increase both supply and demand locally for the devices. To increase supply, initiative coordinators will meet with doctors to ensure that they know where to refer patients who are interested in LARCs. And to increase demand, they will meet with groups that regularly interact with teenagers — such as school nurses and youth workers — to make sure that teens are well-informed about LARCs.
For community health leaders in Rochester and elsewhere, part of the process is also about dispelling some persistent misinformation about LARCs.
“There’s been a lot of research about how these devices are safe for teens,” said Andy Aligne, M.D., executive director of the Hoekelman Center. “But some myths from several decades ago persist, and even some doctors don’t have all the updated information.”
Coordinators from the children’s hospital are collaborating with an extensive network of local agencies, including the Metro Council for Teen Potential, Highland Family Planning, and Planned Parenthood of Central and Western NY, on the LARC Initiative.
“This program is a widespread collaboration among health care agencies in Rochester to provide the most up-to-date and current information on LARCs to help curb teen pregnancy, which is a significant health issue in our community,” said John Urban, president and CEO of Greater Rochester Health Foundation. “Greater Rochester Health Foundation is proud to support this important initiative in the greater Rochester area.”
The focus of the Greater Rochester Health Foundation, which is funding the initiative, is to improve the health status of all residents of the greater Rochester community including people whose health care needs have not been met because of race, ethnicity, or income.