Women using long-term contraception 'at greater risk of STIs'
Women who use long-term contraception, such as implants and IUDs are less likely to use condoms, putting them at risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs), reports Reuters. A new US study has found that while long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) means women are less likely to get pregnant than those not on LARCs, they are more likely to be diagnosed with an STI.
According to the study, which was published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases, women at college are over two times less likely to have used a condom if they use LARC methods of contraception compared to those who don't. While their method of birth control offers protection against pregnancy, it does not defend them against possible STIs.
Erika Thompson, lead author of the study, told the news provider: “Long-acting reversible contraception, which includes intrauterine devices and contraceptive implants, is one of the most effective ways to prevent pregnancy. While these methods are good at preventing pregnancy, there is no protection for sexually transmitted infections.”
She continued to say that a key finding was that condom use was a lot lower among those using LARC methods than other types of birth control, such as the pill. There seems to be a misunderstanding about the type of protection LARC methods offer, with the focus being on long-term pregnancy prevention rather than STI protection.
Out of 17,623 college women aged 18 or older who had had sex in the year before the study, around nine per cent used a LARC method. Of these, 24 per cent also used a condom in their last sexual encounter. In comparison, 57 per cent of those who used a different form of contraception also used a condom.
The study found that most of the LARC users who did not use a condom as well were over 21-years-old, white and had health insurance. Researchers highlighted the fact that Hispanic and black LARC users were more likely to double up on protection and use a condom too.
According to the study, around half of new STI infections occur among teenagers and young adults, meaning there is already a greater risk of infection.
Long-term and hormonal forms of contraception only offer protection against pregnancy, meaning you need to take extra steps to protect against STIs. Ensure you always use a condom, get tested for STIs regularly and seek medical attention if any symptoms start.