Although women in the military have access to a variety of free contraceptive options, unplanned pregnancies continue to occur in the Department of the Navy (DoN). In 2010, only 36% of pregnancies among surveyed enlisted sailors were planned pregnancies.1 In 2008, among surveyed active duty married and single Marines aged 21-25, 1 of 4 women (25%) and 1 in 10 men (10%) said they personally experienced an unplanned pregnancy in the previous 12 months.2 For Navy and Marine Corps women, an unplanned pregnancy can3:
Although most military women believe in the importance of family planning and use some form of contraception, most do not use the most effective forms, the long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs).1
What are LARCs?
LARCs are birth control methods that provide effective contraception over a long period of time, but do not require any action by the user after they have been inserted. LARCs available in the U.S. and in Navy Medical facilities include:
In general, LARCs are beneficial because they are:
Why is it important to discuss LARCs?
Among female Sailors who said they were using birth control when they became pregnant, more than half were using the birth control pill compared to other contraceptive methods.1 Birth control pills are more failure-prone than LARCs. One of the reasons for higher failure rates among oral contraceptives is inconsistent or incorrect use, such as forgetting doses or neglecting to take the pill at the same time every day.4 LARCs eliminate the need for adherence to a medication schedule, therefore reducing the risk of an unintended pregnancy.
What are some common myths surrounding LARC?
Studies have found many myths surrounding the use of LARC.
What can you do?
Unplanned pregnancies can negatively affect a Sailor or Marine's career, finances and relationships, making the prevention of unplanned pregnancies a necessary component of their overall health and wellness. Despite the effectiveness and relative ease of use of LARCs, usage among military women is very low. In 2010, only 15% of enlisted women who used contraception cited LARC as their chosen form of birth control.1
Learn more about LARCs by checking out the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center's LARC web page at: http://www.med.navy.mil/sites/nmcphc/health-promotion/reproductive-sexual-health/Pages/contraception.aspx
1. Navy Personnel Research, Studies, and Technology. 2012 Navy pregnancy and parenting survey. Navy Personnel Research, Studies, and Technology. http://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/organization/bupers/WomensPoli cy/Documents/2012_Pregnancy_and_Parenthood_Executive_Summary.pdf. Published September, 2014. Accessed February 11, 2014.
2. RTI International. 2008 Department of Defense survey of health related behaviors among active duty military personnel. TRICARE Management Activity. http://www.tricare.mil/tma/2008HealthBehaviors.pdf. Published September 2009. Accessed February 26, 2013.
3. Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. OPNAV Instruction 6000.1C.Navy Personnel Command. http://www.med.navy.mil/directives/oth/OPNAV%206000.1C.pdf. Retrieved February 19, 2013.
4. Division of Reproductive Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Contraception. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
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