“Long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) methods are increasing in popularity with use increasing from 2.4% of all U.S. women using contraception in 2002 to 8.5% in 2009 ... In a study of 4,167 females aged 14–45 years that compared continuation rates for LARC and short-acting contraceptive methods, the continuation rate for LARC was 86% at 12 months compared with 55% for short-acting contraceptive methods.”
– Committee Opinion No. 539. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Obstet Gynecol 2012; 120: 983
In the United States, there are 62 million females of childbearing age. Of those 62 million, 70% are sexually active and don’t want to become pregnant, and 62% are currently using a contraceptive method. The most commonly used contraceptives are female or male sterilization, the pill and male condoms. However, two of the fastest-growing contraceptive methods are injectables and implants.
Twenty-three percent of women have used an injectable contraceptive, an increase from 4.5% in 1995. Women in low-resource countries are more likely to use injectables because of the difficulty in accessing health care. In fact, though injectables make up 6% of modern method contraceptive prevalence globally, they account for more than 40% in sub-Saharan, Southern and Eastern Africa. In the United States, injectable contraceptives refer to the three-month Depo-Provera and the (now discontinued) one-month Lunelle. Depo-Provera is a progestin-only injectable given every three months in the upper arm or buttock. Unfortunately, Depo-Provera has challenging side effects, and 34% of the women using it discontinued due to side effects.
Implants are another form of contraceptive becoming more commonly used. A contraceptive implant is a small rod in the upper arm that releases hormones that stop ovulation. The benefits to this method are duration and efficacy. Contraceptive implants work for up to five years and have a failure rate of less than 1%. A drawback to this method is that implants must be both inserted and removed by a doctor, so access to healthcare at both times is a requirement.
Injectables and implants are two of the fast-growing types of contraceptives. Orbis Biosciences sees great potential in these methods, especially as they pertain to developing countries, and Orbis is working on improved products for both injectable and implant methods. If the drawbacks to these methods could be eliminated or reduced, these two forms of contraceptives could drastically improve female health on even more of a global scale.