Unintended pregnancies represent nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States. Teen birth rates in the United States have declined, but still rank highest among developed countries. Nationally long-acting, reversible contraception (LARC) usage remains relatively low.
Unintended pregnancies are associated with an increased risk of poor health outcomes for mothers and babies, including delayed access to prenatal care, preterm birth, and negative physical and mental health effects. LARC is safe and highly effective in preventing unintended pregnancies. LARC requires minimal user intervention, works over long periods of time and can be reversed.
Preventing and/or lowering unintended pregnancy can affect the present and future well-being of teens and families, while also contributing to the economic health of our state.
What can providers do?
These five steps are recommended by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists:
- Provide counseling on all contraceptive options including implants and intrauterine devices (IUDs).
- Educate and encourage patients to consider LARC options.
- Advocate for insurance coverage and appropriate payment and reimbursement for every type of contraceptive method.
- Adopt best practices for LARC insertion.
- Become familiar with and support local, state (including Medicaid), federal and private programs that improve affordability of all contraceptive methods.
Taking a collaborative approach
Lowering unintended pregnancy rates requires a multi-faceted approach from the community, state and local government, health care providers, school-based clinics, local health clinics, hospitals, universities, and colleges. AFMC’s Medicaid Quality improvement team works with all of these groups to increase awareness of LARC in our collaborative effort to reduce unintended pregnancies. Our Medicaid Quality Improvement team provides educational programs to increase the knowledge of LARC and implanting methods among primary care providers and gynecologists/obstetricians.
All women should have access to safe and effective contraceptive methods. Talk to your patients today.
 Guttmacher Institute (2019). Unintended Pregnancy in the United States. https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/unintended-pregnancy-united-states
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2021). Health Care Providers and Teen Pregnancy Prevention. https://www.cdc .gov/teenpregnancy/health-care-providers/index.htm
 Daniels K, Abma JC. Current contraceptive status among women aged 15–49: United States, 2017–2019. NCHS Data Brief, no 388. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2020.
LARC Strategies for Success
LARC Web Resources
Reviewed and Revised June 2022