PHILADELPHIA — Although contraception options may seem boilerplate, health care providers should to stay up to date on the latest contraception guidelines, according to a presenter here at the annual meeting of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.
“As any kind of prescriber, you want to minimize risk for you and for your patient. The longer you practice, the more important that it is to be very careful,” Mimi Secor, a DNP, FNP-BC, FAAN, based in North Attleboro, Massachusetts, told attendees.
Embracing technology must be a part of that ongoing learning process, she said.
Secor referenced the CDC’s U.S. Medical Eligibility Criteria for Contraceptive Use app. This tool, which was also discussed at ACP’s Internal Medicine, Annual Meeting, uses a color and number system to help medical professionals with patients who have certain medical conditions to weigh the risks and benefits of such patients also taking contraceptives. Another tool she recommended was Contraception, a publication of the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals.
These tools can also help boost a medical professional’s credibility when a patient asks about things that medical science has debunked or confirmed to be myths, or is trying to sort out discordant information about contraception, Secor said.
“You still have mothers and grandmothers saying not to get IUDs,” she said, adding that the design of these contraceptive method has changed over the past few decades and that these do not directly cause STIs, suggesting that women should be more comfortable in using them.
Secor said contrary to what some medical professionals and patients may have heard, birth control pills contraceptives do not cause an increased risk for breast cancer, the risks of the oral contraceptive patch do not outweigh the benefits, and that there is 4-week grace period when using Depo-Provera.
In addition, most patients are neither too young nor too old to be hearing about birth control, she told Healio Family Medicine.
“If we can give the information up front when women are young, that’s a gift that keeps on giving,” Secor said. “They have a planned family situation, they have an empowered life, and control over their bodies. So the investment up front when they’re young is really, really worth it.”
“Even women who are perimenopausal don’t know all the risks they face,” Secor continued. “They are almost like teens in being risk takers. Patients at midlife are at risk for pregnancy too. So [these women] need special care, special counseling.”
She acknowledged time during appointments is not infinite, but medical professionals need to take time to discuss contraceptive use with patients.
“We need to carve out as much time as we can with patients so we can do our jobs,” Secor said. “By speeding up our schedules we’re not doing a service to our patients.” – by Janel Miller
Secor M. Abstract 17.3.062. Presented at: American Association of Nurse Practitioners National Conference; Jun. 20-25, 2017; Philadelphia.
Disclosure: Secor reports receiving speaker fees from GenPath, Shiongoi and Hologic.