–(HISPANIC PR WIRE – CONTEXTO LATINO)–When it comes to family planning and birth control, women have many options. Hormones can be taken in the form of a pill, an implant, a shot, an intrauterine method and a patch, to name a few. There are male and female condoms, spermicides and sterilization. Yet with all of these options, recent research shows that Hispanic women need more information about long-term family planning.
A new national survey by International Communications Research (ICR), conducted in February and March 2005, of 274 Hispanic women between the ages of 25 to 49 reveals gaps in knowledge about long-lasting birth control options. Women ages 35 to 44, and married and formerly married women in the United States are most likely to choose to have their tubes tied as their long-term family planning method.
According to the survey, 42 percent of Hispanic women believe that female sterilization is 100 percent effective in preventing pregnancy. But research published in the journal Contraception shows that the failure rate is actually approximately five pregnancies per 1000 users.
Gaby Madrigal, a clinical assistant and mother of a four-year-old child, chose a five-year, reversible intrauterine contraceptive as the method that best suits her needs. “As the mother of a young child, and a full-time clinical assistant, I don’t have time to think about birth control. My doctor recommended Mirena, a long-lasting birth control option that is just as effective as sterilization,” said Gaby. “My husband and I have not decided whether later we’ll want more children, but with Mirena, we still have that possibility,” added Gaby.
Reversal of Female Sterilization
While reversal is possible in some instances, the medical community considers sterilization a permanent method of birth control. Reversal requires complicated surgery, and future pregnancies cannot be guaranteed. In addition, certain sterilization procedures may leave some women unable to pursue reversal surgery. What’s more, reversal surgery is costly and is not always covered by insurance.
“Many women are not aware that the success rate of reversing sterilization is unpredictable,” says Diana Ramos, M.D., assistant professor at the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Keck School of Medicine at University of Southern California in Los Angeles. “While women cannot control what life changes may occur over time — pressures of work life and second marriages — they can keep some control over their ability to have children. Because of the finality of the procedure, women who choose surgical options should assume they are giving up that control.”
The fact is that there are long-lasting contraception options that don’t require surgery. Yet the survey revealed that a high percentage of Hispanic women select female sterilization for long-lasting contraception without being informed of these other options.
“Nearly 65 percent of Hispanic women surveyed were unaware of a long-term removable contraceptive option called Mirena,” says Dr. Ramos. “It is as effective in preventing pregnancy as having your tubes tied, yet is reversible and does not require surgery,” she says.
According to the drug’s manufacturer, Berlex Laboratories, Mirena (Levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system) is an advancement in contraception that is as or more effective than surgery. Mirena is 99.9 percent effective and works up to five years. Once it is removed, users have the same chance of getting pregnant as women using no contraception at all. Over the past 14 years, more than 7 million women have used Mirena successfully worldwide.
Female sterilization can make having more children highly unlikely, but long-lasting reversible* contraceptives, such as Mirena, make it possible for women to try to have kids. “Family is the heart and soul of the Latina community,” says Dr. Ramos. “That’s why it’s important for women to understand all of their family planning options so they can make the best choice for them.”
If you are considering surgery, Dr. Ramos recommends that you first speak with your health-care provider and learn about alternative long-lasting contraceptive options.
Only a woman and her doctor can determine if intrauterine contraception is right for her, but women with a history or at risk for pelvic inflammatory disease or ectopic pregnancy should not use Mirena. Otherwise, most women who have had a child are typically good candidates for Mirena. Side effects are uncommon and may include missed menstrual periods, irregular bleeding or spotting for the first 3-6 months, and most women will experience lighter, shorter periods thereafter. Rarely, some women experience a cyst on their ovaries. Mirena does not protect against HIV (AIDS) and other sexually transmitted diseases. For full prescribing information, please visit http://www.longtermbirthcontrol.com.
* Studies show the chances of getting pregnant after discontinuing Mirena use are the same as for women who have not been using any method of birth control.
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