Interest in IUDs and other birth control spikes after election

Margarita Cambest, 505-5439/@ritacambest
  • Planned Parenthood Keystone says the clinic has performed double the insertions of IUDs in the month following the presidential election.
  • Google Trends data shows searches for both IUDs and Planned Parenthood spiked in the week surrounding Election Day.

Are more women getting IUDs in light of the outcome of the presidential election?

Following President-elect Donald Trump’s win, women turned to Twitter to say they were rushing to get long-lasting birth control to get them through a four-year presidency.

The hormonal and copper-based intrauterine devices prevent against pregnancy for up to 10 years, but they can cost as much as $1,000 without health insurance.

Republicans in Congress have made repeated attempts over the past six years to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Under the president’s signature health care law, also known as Obamacare, all 18 Food and Drug Administration-approved methods of birth control are fully covered by insurance without cost sharing.

Planned Parenthood Keystone president Melissa Reed says women are worried about that coverage going away if proposed repeals or replacements make it through a Republican-controlled Congress to the desk of a Republican president for an inevitable signature.

Planned Parenthood has seen a rise in the number of IUD implants, including hormonal, left, that last up to five years, and non-hormonal, right, that are effective up to ten years. Thursday, December 15, 2016.  John A. Pavoncello photo

Across the nation, she said, the women’s health care centers have seen a 900 percent spike in IUD requests the month following the election.

“It really goes to show how important the preventive benefit is under the ACA and how concerned women are about losing this vital coverage,” Reed said. "I hope the incoming administration and incoming Congress will continue to support health care."

Reed said Planned Parenthood Keystone, which includes 12 health centers in Central Pennsylvania, typically does 50 insertions each month across all branches. However, in the past month that’s doubled to 100.

Google Trends data in Pennsylvania confirms the interest — at least when looking at search histories. Between December 2015 and December 2016, the popularity of the search term “IUDs” in Pennsylvania spiked in the week surrounding the 2016 presidential election. Searches for “Planned Parenthood” also peaked. No other point in the year saw as much interest in the commonwealth for either search term.

Google Trends search data shows the popularity of Pennsylvania searches for intrauterine devices, a form of long-acting reversible contraception, spiked in the week surrounding the 2016 presidential election.

“Many women will go without (contraception) so they can afford rent or gas or afford to put food on the table,” Reed said. “Since the ACA has been in effect and birth control and preventive health care has been available for women, they haven’t had to sacrifice their health care to meet the economic needs of their families.”

The popularity of IUDs has doubled in recent years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 16 percent of women ages 15 to 44 currently use a pill, compared to 7.2 percent who use long-acting reversible contraception, including intrauterine devices or contraceptive implants.

While women who do have insurance pay no out-of-pocket cost for their birth control, without insurance, the device could cost between $500 to $1,000 on Planned Parenthood’s sliding-fee scale. It will run closer to $1,000 at a private practice.

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Deborah Gobel, a certified registered nurse practitioner with the Women’s Institute for Gynecology & Minimally Invasive Surgery in York, said IUDs are a better option for some women because of the ease of use  — no forgetting to take a pill every day at the same time. Though she hasn’t noticed a recent increase in requests, she said in her 12 years at the practice she’s had multiple conversations about IUDs. The devices are popular at the office for contraceptive use and also for treating heavy periods.

For women without insurance, the $1,000 price tag also might be less than the $50 to $100 a pack of birth control pills could cost each month. Over five years, an IUD could be as much as $5,000 less than pills.

“By this point in my career, I’d hoped that all contraception would be free,” Gobel said.