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On World Contraception Day, recognizing the importance of long-acting reversible contraceptives

September 25, 2015

Long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), which include contraceptive implants and intrauterine devices, are often overlooked as options for young women. Two recent events co-hosted by FHI 360 encouraged inquiry and action to increase young women’s use of these safe, highly effective contraceptives.

Symposiumgirl in school

In late May, FHI 360 co-hosted a symposium on how long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) can improve young women’s health and well-being. With support from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), FHI 360, PSI, Pathfinder and its Evidence2Action Project, and Marie Stopes International sponsored a one-day symposium, “For Youth, a Healthy Option with LARCs,” in Washington, DC.

The symposium convened more than 100 experts from around the world — including program advisors and implementers, researchers, health providers, donors and advocates, as well as young people themselves. Participants were encouraged to share experiences, tackle tough questions and advocate for young women’s wider access to LARCs.

Ellen Starbird, director of USAID’s Office of Population and Reproductive Health, provided opening remarks, while Dr. Jeffrey Peipert, principle investigator of the Contraceptive CHOICE Project, offered the keynote presentation. Massa Harris, a young Liberian radio host, gave a dynamic interview and passionate call to action. Laneta Dorflinger, FHI 360’s distinguished scientist and director of Contraceptive Technology Innovation, made an engaging presentation titled, “To bleed or not to bleed? A LARC for amenorrhea.”

Panelists and participants shared insights from the U.S. and global health arenas. They discussed the challenges of conducting implementation research in resource-poor settings and explored solutions to improve practice. There were thoughtful dialogues on provider and community bias, as well as on the health and non-health benefits of LARC use by young women. Experts from both the U.S. and country programs inspired debate.

High-level consultation

The symposium’s organizers also hosted a smaller, high-level consultation for a select group of technical and field experts. The purpose of the consultation was to draft language for a global consensus statement on the safety and efficacy of LARCs for youth and to develop a set of recommendations for research, program and policy that address some of the tough questions raised at the symposium. It is hoped that the consensus statement and key recommendations serve as a catalyst to move the public health community forward in ensuring that LARCs are available as essential contraceptive options for all sexually active adolescent and young women.

View presentations from the symposium here.

Photo credit: Jessica Scranton/FHI 360