Are LARC Users Less Likely to Use Condoms? An Analysis of U.S. Women Initiating LARC in 2008–2018
Women's Health Issues
Introduction: Public health professionals have raised concern that increased use of long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) could raise women's risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), because LARC's superior pregnancy protection may decrease women's motivation to use a barrier method for supplemental pregnancy prevention. This study uses population-based data to examine whether condom use is lower, particularly among young women who are at increased STI risk, after initiating LARC versus moderately effective methods. Methods: With the 2011–2019 data files of the National Survey of Family Growth, we examine the percent of sexually active months with condom use in the year after LARC or moderately effective method initiation for a nationally representative sample of 2,018 women aged 15–44 years. Multinomial logistic models regressed condom use on method type and age group, as well as their interaction, while adjusting for key confounders. Results: The unadjusted likelihood of any condom use is substantially lower among women who initiated LARC versus moderately effective methods (12% vs. 37%), and this difference is greater among younger versus older women. After accounting for differences in women's reproductive and sociodemographic profiles, however, a statistically significant difference in condom use by method initiated remains only for those aged 20–34 years. Conclusions: Crude estimates suggest that condom use is lower after initiating LARC versus moderately effective methods, especially among young women. After accounting for the confounding effects of LARC users’ distinct profiles—particularly in terms of parity and teenage childbearing—the difference is decreased overall and no longer significant for adolescent women. Overall results indicate a need for new STI prevention strategies and policies that emphasize the importance of dual prevention for LARC users at risk of STIs.
This article was originally published in Women's Health Issues. The version of record is available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.whi.2022.05.002. This article will be embargoed until 06/21/2023.
Eeckhaut, Mieke C.W., and Katie Fitzpatrick. “Are LARC Users Less Likely to Use Condoms? An Analysis of U.S. Women Initiating LARC in 2008–2018.” Women’s Health Issues 32, no. 5 (September 2022): 431–39. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.whi.2022.05.002.