New Featured Study in Women’s Health Issues: Long-acting Reversible Contraception in the Postpartum Period

Media Contact: Kathy Fackelmann,, 202-994-8354

WASHINGTON, DC (November 12, 2015) — Two-thirds of North Carolina women who wanted to begin using an intrauterine device or contraceptive implant after giving birth had not received it at six weeks postpartum, often because they were told that they needed to schedule a separate office visit for insertion.  These are among the findings from the Editor’s Choice study in the latest issue of the journal Women’s Health Issues, “Barriers to Receiving Long-acting Reversible Contraception in the Postpartum Period.” Women’s Health Issues is the official journal of the Jacobs Institute of Women’s Health, which is based at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University.

In the study Matthew Zerden, of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and WakeMed Health and Hospitals, and his colleagues analyzed responses from 324 women who completed a survey about contraception approximately six weeks after giving birth in an urban, not-for-profit hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina. The participants were part of a larger study on postpartum use of long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) methods, and all 324 expressed an interest in using an intrauterine device (IUD) or contraceptive implant, which have failure rates below one percent.

The authors found that two-thirds (65%) of this study’s participants reported that they had not received LARC methods when they were contacted for the follow-up survey, which occurred after each woman’s scheduled six-week postpartum visit. The most common reasons were being told they would need to return for another visit to have the device inserted, missing the postpartum visit, or being unable to afford the IUD or implant.

Zerden and his colleagues suggest that postpartum LARC use may increase if women can receive LARC before postpartum hospitalization discharge or if clinics are able to provide same-day insertion at the postpartum visit. An increase in LARC use, they note, can reduce unintended pregnancies and short interpregnancy intervals, which are associated with increased health risks for mothers and children.

This study is one of several articles on postpartum contraception in the November/December 2015 edition of Women’s Health Issues:

Barriers to receiving long-acting reversible contraception in the postpartum period,” by Matthew L. Zerden, Jennifer H. Tang, Gretchen S. Stuart, Deborah R. Norton, Sarah B. Verbiest, and Seth Brody
Postpartum Contraception Use by Urban/Rural Status: An Analysis of the Michigan Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (PRAMS) Data” by Katherine A. Starr, Summer L. Martins, Sydeaka Watson, and Melissa L. Gilliam
Geographic variation in characteristics of postpartum women using female sterilization” by Kari White, Joseph E. Potter, and Nikki Zite
Trends and Disparities in Postpartum Sterilization following C-Section, 2000-2008” by Ginny Garcia, Dawn M. Richardson, Kelly L. Gonzales, and Adolfo G. Cuevas

About Women’s Health Issues:
Women's Health Issues is the official publication of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health, and the only journal devoted exclusively to women's health care and policy issues. The journal has a particular focus on women's issues in the context of the U.S. health care delivery system and policymaking processes, although it invites submissions addressing women's health care issues in global context if relevant to North American readers. It is a journal for health professionals, social scientists, policymakers, and others concerned with the complex and diverse facets of health care delivery and policy for women. For more information about the journal, please visit

About Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University:
Established in July 1997 as the School of Public Health and Health Services, Milken Institute School of Public Health is the only school of public health in the nation’s capital. Today, more than 1,700 students from almost every U.S. state and 39 countries pursue undergraduate, graduate and doctoral-level degrees in public health. The school also offers an online Master of Public Health, MPH@GW, and an online Executive Master of Health Administration, MHA@GW, which allow students to pursue their degree from anywhere in the world.