Conference Coverage

2019 Update: Contraceptives and unintended pregnancy rates



– The unintended pregnancy rate is declining after years of hovering at close to 50%.

Vidyard Video

While the rates among women of color remain high – currently at 58 and 79 per 1,000 women aged 15-44 years for Hispanic and black women, respectively – they have declined from 79 and 92 per 1,000 Hispanic and black women in that age group in 2008, and the overall rate is now at about 45%, Eve Espey, MD, said at the annual clinical and scientific meeting of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

“Considering the scope and number of women affected by unplanned pregnancy, this is actually a huge public health achievement,” said Dr. Espey, professor and chair of the department of obstetrics & gynecology at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.

The declines in unintended pregnancies are largely attributable to “better and more consistent use of contraceptives, and, interestingly, increased abstinence,” she noted, adding that “another enormous determinant of this decrease in unintended pregnancy is the use of long-acting reversible contraception [LARC].” About 2% of women used contraceptives in 2002, and now, based on the latest cycle of data from 2015-2017, 16% of women use contraceptives.

In this video interview, Dr. Espey discusses the main points of her talk entitled “Contraceptives: What you need to know in 2019,” including:

  • The importance of “following reproductive justice–based principles and counseling” when it comes to prescribing contraceptives.
  • The latest data showing that certain LARC methods remain safe and effective beyond their approved duration of use.
  • Trends with respect to tubal ligation and salpingectomy.
  • The value of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s U.S. Medical Eligibility Criteria (MEC) for evidence-based guidance on selecting contraceptives based on patients’ individual needs.

“[MEC] is something every ob.gyn. should consider using,” she said, noting that access is available through a free app. “As our patients are more complex and have more comorbidities, it’s particularly helpful for matching up patients and their conditions with recommendations for specific contraceptive methods.”

Dr. Espey reported having no financial disclosures.

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