Clearing Pathways and Removing Barriers- Why LARCs work!!
Community Outreach Coordinator
A Step Ahead Foundation
Half of all pregnancies in the United States each year are unintended. That’s 3 million unintended pregnancies each year. Many people use birth control, so why do we still have this problem? Birth control – and birth control users – are not perfect. 40% of unintended pregnancies are the results of contraception failures. For example, the birth control pill has a 9% failure rate in real world use which doubles for women under 21 and triples for at-risk women. Many women don’t have access to the most effective birth control methods, can’t afford it, or don’t have the knowledge of how it works or how to use it properly, or some combination of these factors. In response, A Step Ahead Foundation was founded to provide free, highly effective birth control to all women of reproductive age in Memphis, regardless of income or insurance status.
These highly effective methods – the kinds that female OBGYNs and other health providers most often choose for themselves – are called LARC (Long-Acting, Reversible Contraception). LARC options include 2 types of IUDs and a subdermal implant, and they are 20 times more effective than the pill, patch, and ring. Research tells us that when women know about these methods and they are available at no cost, they are overwhelmingly popular. The CHOICE Project with Washington University Medical School offered over 9,000 women education and access to all birth control methods at no cost. With knowledge and cost barriers removed, 75% of CHOICE participants chose LARC methods.
If these methods are so great, why aren’t more women using them? Because of the knowledge, access, and cost barriers that are present everywhere outside of programs like The CHOICE Project or A Step Ahead Foundation. In Shelby County LARC methods are available at our 19 partner clinics at no cost. Each of our clients receives the LARC method of her choosing, in consultation with the doctor, a well-woman exam, and a cab ride to and from the clinic if she needs it. There is no cost to the patient for any of these services. A woman who calls for an appointment is guaranteed one within a week, although she typically can get an appointment within a few days of calling.
By allowing women to wait to start their families or space out their pregnancies to best suit their families their pathways to education, work, and financial stability have one less barrier. If you are interested in free, highly effective birth control call (901) 320-STEP for an appointment or visit www.astepaheadfoundation.org for more information.