Election results bring a run on birth control

The reaction to this year’s presidential election allows us to see the difference between Republicans and Democrats, men and women.

In the aftermath of President Obama’s two wins, men headed to the gun stores to stock up on weapons and ammunition.

After President-elect Trump’s victory, women have headed to their gynecologists, to stock up on birth control.

Like the gun fans, they’re worried the new administration will make it harder to get birth control.

And FiveThirtyEight reports today that the election, and likely repeal of health care for Americans, is leading women to change the type of birth control they’re using.

Long-acting reversible contraception, or LARCs, have grown more popular since the early 2000s, and that trend has continued since the mandate went into effect. This category includes intrauterine devices, or IUDs, and hormonal implants, which are options for women who don’t want to get pregnant in the near future (they can last three to 12 years).1 According to a report from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, LARC methods are 20 times more effective than birth control pills, patches or rings over the long term. About 12 percent of women who use contraceptives were using one of these methods in 2011-13, the most recent data available from the National Survey of Family Growth shows.

These birth control methods have never been nearly as popular as shorter-term methods. According to 2012 figures from the Guttmacher Institute, a policy and advocacy organization focused on reproductive health, 25 percent of women who used contraception used a birth control pill, 25 percent had undergone tubal sterilization and 15 percent used condoms. But this represents a comeback for LARCs. In 1982, 4 percent of all U.S. women ages 15 to 44 reported using LARCs, according to the survey data. These were the early days of LARCs. The big issue in this arena in the 1970s was an IUD called the Dalkon Shield, which was taken off the market after it was found to be dangerous, causing pain, infection and, occasionally, infertility or death. By 1988, LARC use had dropped to 1.4 percent. There was no change from 1988 to 2002, but then the LARCs that women use now started popping up, more comfortable and less problematic IUDs and implants. The share of women of reproductive age who used LARCs doubled from one study in 2002 to another in 2006-10, which brought it back to 1982 levels. Then it nearly doubled again for 2011-13.

Yesterday, many women took to Twitter to support the availability of birth control as part of a #ThxBirthControl campaign.