Thanks, Birth Control Day

Join The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, Bedsider, and me in saying, “Thanks, Birth Control” today! Birth control is a wonderful tool that helps us help our patients with family planning and other health issues.

All the reasons I️ say “thanks, birth control” on this day every year:

  1. Thanks for fewer unplanned pregnancies (women using birth control carefully and consistently account for only 5% of all unplanned pregnancies).
  2. Thanks for giving people the freedom to plan a family on their own terms.
  3. Thanks for more economic opportunities for young women and men.
  4. Thanks for greater educational attainment.
  5. Thanks for improved maternal health.
  6. Thanks for being so amazingly awesome that it is used by 99% of women who have had sex.
  7. Thanks for helping build stronger families.
  8. Thanks for being one of the nation’s top 10 greatest public health achievements of the last 100 years, according to the CDC.
  9. Thanks for reduced public spending.
  10. Thanks for fewer abortions.
  11. Thanks for reminding us of something that has great bi-partisan support.
  12. Thanks for building stronger relationships.
  13. Thanks for fewer health disparities.
  14. Thanks for less child poverty.
  15. Thanks for helping countless individuals better plan for their future and realize their dreams.
  16. Thanks for fewer low birth weight babies.
  17. Thanks for being so darn cost effective (public funding for contraception saves nearly $6 in medical costs for every $1 spend on contraceptive services).
  18. Thanks for saving countless panties and other clothing items from being stained by unregulated periods.
  19. Thanks for helping women manage heavy and/or painful periods (and the resulting lost days from work, costs for feminine products, and treatment costs).
  20. Thanks for treating acne.
  21. Thanks for preventing cancer.
  22. Thanks for coming in lots of different forms to choose from.
  23. Thanks for helping women skip pesky periods.
  24. Thanks for treating prementrual syndrome and premenstrual disphoric disorder.
  25. Thanks for letting women and men choose control of whether/when they want to have children.
Why are YOU or YOUR PATIENTS thankful for birth control?  Tweet (#ThxBirthControl), post something on Facebook, share one of Bedsider’s clever digital postcards, or add a comment here.  Need some ideas?  The National Campaign has plenty.
Thank you and thanks birth control.

CDC Updates Guidelines for Contraceptive Use

The CDC has just released the second editions of both guidelines related to contraception.

The 2016 U.S. Medical Eligibility Criteria for Contraceptive Use (U.S. MEC) comprises recommendations for the use of specific contraceptive methods by women and men who have certain characteristics or medical conditions. The information in this report updates the 2010 U.S. MEC.

Notable updates include:

  • the addition of recommendations for women with cystic fibrosis, women with multiple sclerosis, and women receiving certain psychotropic drugs or St. John’s wort;
  • revisions to the recommendations for emergency contraception, including the addition of ulipristal acetate; and
  • revisions to the recommendations for postpartum women; women who are breastfeeding; women with known dyslipidemias, migraine headaches, superficial venous disease, gestational trophoblastic disease, sexually transmitted diseases, and human immunodeficiency virus; and women who are receiving antiretroviral therapy.

The 2016 U.S. Selected Practice Recommendations for Contraceptive Use (U.S. SPR) addresses a select group of common, yet sometimes controversial or complex, issues regarding initiation and use of specific contraceptive methods. The information in this report updates the 2013 U.S. SPR. Major updates include:

  • Revised recommendations for starting regular contraception after the use of emergency contraceptive pills.
  • New recommendations for the use of medications to ease insertion of intrauterine devices.

Download the 2016 US MEC and US SPR app in the iTunes App Store, an easy to use reference that combines information from the both CDC family planning guidance. It features a streamlined interface so providers can access the guidance quickly and easily.

Birth Control and Population Issues

With more women and men empowered to control their fertility with planning and birth control use, some populations are seeing drops in childbearing.  Some countries are concerned about population declines and are promoting childbearing.  The “baby bonus” programs of Australia and Singapore may ring a bell.

Other countries are considering policies that restrict access to reproductive health services, such as contraception and abortion, and actually making them illegal in some situations.  If these policies are implemented, there are serious concerns it could lead to more unsafe abortions.

Others question whether forcing women into the domestic sphere roles may backfire.  Research from Harvard’s sociology department found that declining fertility may not be linked to birth control use, but rather to gender role stereotypes placed on women.  Other countries experiencing similar drops in birth rates are working to improve conditions so that couples want to plan to have children.  An example of improving conditions is more maternity and paternity leave.

We live in an interesting time where most populations are struggling to reduce unintended pregnancies but a few are now working to promote more pregnancies.

Women’s Life Plans Have Changed

The average American woman’s life plan has changed drastically over the last few decades.  It’s no longer start having sex, get married, and have a kid…all within 4 years.  It’s now start having sex…continue having sex for about 9 years…then get married and have a kid in the year after that.

This means young women will need effective birth control for many years until their plans change.

contraceptive-use.png


Reference:  Infographic from Guttmacher Institute’s Media Center.  Based on data from: Finer LB and Philbin JM, Trends in ages at key reproductive transitions in the United States, 1951–2010, Women’s Health Issues 2014, 23:e1–e9.

Why I Started “Birth Control Pharmacist”

My ultimate goal is to help women and men who do not want to start or expand their families right now with their family planning needs.  Seems simple.  Despite a lot of valiant efforts, nearly half of all pregnancies…45% to be exact…are unintended (i.e., mistimed or unwanted).  That’s millions of unintended pregnancies in the United States each year.  For more stats, check out the Guttmacher Institute’s fact sheet.

Now you’re beginning to understand my passion for this issue.

The good news is that policymakers and consumers alike are starting to realize the contributions of pharmacists to the field of family planning, particular direct patient care services. Some states have enacted legislation to expand the pharmacists scope of practice to include prescribing hormonal contraception and emergency contraception, with more states following suit.

Most pharmacists who will be providing contraceptive services are not experts in the field of family planning nor are they expected to be.  As a pharmacist specializing in family planning, I’d like to support my colleagues in providing competent and evidence-based contraceptive care.  The Birth Control Pharmacist project aims to provide the education and training, resources, and clinical updates to pharmacists prescribing contraception. Relevant information and news on research, public policy, and products will be shared too.

In closing, I hope pharmacists and pharmacy students will find the Birth Control Pharmacist’s content useful.  I look forward to your comments, suggestions, and questions!

Sincerely,
Sally