Doctors Report More Women Asking About IUDs After Election

Online calls for women to get IUDs went viral after the election.

November 15, 2016, 3:27 PM

— -- Some doctors in the U.S. are reporting more women asking their physicians about long-lasting birth control devices following concerns about free access to contraception if Trump takes office and ends the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

"We have seen a clear-cut increase in discussion through electronic medical records [and] discussions with patient at gynecologist visits," Dr. Adam Jacobs, division director of family planning in the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, told ABC News.

He said patients have increasingly voiced their concerns about access to birth control and inquired about IUDs since the election.

On social media, many people have encouraged women to secure birth control before Trump enters office. They have expressed concern that Trump and the Republican-held houses of Congress will repeal the ACA, which requires participating insurers in the healthcare marketplace to cover contraception without any co-payment or coinsurance.

The trending discussions on birth control access have promoted long-lasting methods, especially intrauterine devices, or IUDs. Google searches for IUD spiked exponentially in the hours after Trump was elected, according to Google Trends.

An IUD is one of the most enduring forms of long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) -- it can can last between three and 10 years depending on the type.

Jacobs said it's important that patients don't make birth control decisions purely out of fear. But, even before the election, he has been recommending IUDs or other LARCs to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

"I make recommendations that long-acting reversible contraception is the best form of contraception in terms of effectiveness," said Jacobs. "Regardless of what happened last week I was recommending this."

For teenagers and young adults, he generally recommends trying a form of IUD or other LARC first, instead of a hormonal birth control pill or patch.

"LARC is the 21st century contraception," Jacobs said. When he talks with adolescents, he explains that "pills and condoms were the flip phone" and asks them, "Do you want the iPhone 7 or do you want the flip phone?"

Other physicians have noted a sharp increase in patients wanting to discuss IUDs after the election, as well. Dr. Marjorie Greenfield, an obstetrician/gynecologist at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, said that both patients and doctors have been talking.

"I've been hearing about it from [other doctors] about what patients are saying," she told ABC News.

She added that some female physicians are considering the devices for themselves because they are highly effective, in addition to long-lasting.

"The number one thing about counseling IUDs is the effectiveness is remarkable," Greenfield explained. "It's comparable to getting your tubes tied."

The popularity of IUDs has been increasing in recent years, before this recent surge in interest.

Planned Parenthood said they have seen both trends: an "unprecedented" uptick in questions about birth control and access after the election and a steady rise in IUD requests over time since the ACA has made them more accessible.

"We have seen an increase in IUDs over the last few years thanks to the Affordable Care Act and growing public awareness of their safety and efficacy, and we expect that trend to continue," Dr. Raegan McDonald-Mosley, the chief medical officer at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in an emailed statement to ABC News. "Planned Parenthood health centers nationally have seen the total number of patients using IUDs increase 91 percent over the last five years."

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) wrote they hoped the form of birth control, which is "20 times more effective at preventing pregnancy than oral contraceptive pills, patches or rings," will continue to be easily available to women.

"All women should have access to safe contraceptive methods, including Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC), which includes implants and intrauterine devices (IUDs) which have a high up-front cost," officials from ACOG said in an emailed statement to ABC News. "While I certainly hope birth control methods will be readily available under the Trump administration, I can understand women’s concern over losing such access, particularly to high cost methods."

Both Greenfield and Jacobs cautioned that the birth control, while effective, many not be right for every woman.

"In terms of risks and benefits, there are two different kinds of IUDs," said Greenfield. "People with copper IUDs have heavier periods or [more cramps]."

Hormone-based IUDs, which usually contain progesterone like some birth control pills, do not last as long as copper -- three to five years as opposed to 10 -- but can help lighten periods or diminsh menstrual cramps.

"It's also used medically for people who don't have manageable periods," said Greenfield.

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