Health experts are recommending the use of long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) methods to young Australian women.
The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association has released a consensus statement which showed that while the uptake of LARCs is low in Australia, clinical experts recommend them as the most effective reversible contraceptive for preventing unintended pregnancies.
Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive of the AHHA said a key way to reduce unintended pregnancy was to use more effective, less user-dependent methods of contraception, such as the long-acting reversible contraception.
"When women are provided with comprehensive, accurate, unbiased counselling, LARC methods are preferred and have been shown to have the highest rates of satisfaction and 12-month continuation compared with other combined hormonal methods.”
Family Planning NSW medical director, Deborah Bateson, supports the statement adding that LARCs have additional health benefits including reducing heavy menstrual bleeding and working as an alternative emergency contraception if inserted within five days of unprotected intercourse.
Ms Bateson said one of the main reasons young women were reluctant to make the switch to long-term contraception was due to the misinformation spread online including that they are unsuitable for young women or that they have a lasting effect on future fertility.
IUD users were 40% more likely and those using the vaginal ring were 60% more likely to be diagnosed with depression
However, a study published last year by the University of Copenhagen confirmed a link between hormonal contraceptives and depression in young women aged between 15 and 34. The researchers found that women taking a combined oral contraceptive were 23% more likely to be diagnosed with depression and those using progestin-only pills were 34% more likely.
Whilst the statistics garnered widespread media attention, many overlooked the more startlingly revelation which suggested that women using long-acting reversible contraception such as hormonal IUDs were far more likely to be diagnosed. For example, IUD users were 40% more likely and those using the vaginal ring were 60% more likely to be diagnosed with depression.
Verhoeven defended the statement, saying that, “In developing the recommendations in the consensus statement, consideration was given to international best practice and evidence regarding contraception, including clinical evidence”.
The Australian College of Midwives Director, Rebekah Bowman also stood behind the AHHA statement.
“LARCS are one of a range of viable contraceptive options. The ACM believes women deserve to have all the available evidence and be free to choose what works best for them given their individual circumstance”.