The Richmond County Health Department now offers new contraceptive options to local women.
Rachel Lampley, Nursing Director, and Sharon Brown, Family Planning Coordinator, presented information about the new options to the Board of Health at its monthly meeting this week.
The department’s nurse practitioners have received training that allows them to offer these new options. These contraceptives have been available since March 19 and are offered on a sliding scale like all of the department’s other services.
Nexplanon is a contraceptive insert placed under the arm locally. The insert works for 3 years by delivering progesterone to the body, according to Brown. “It’s not estrogen-based,” she said.
Brown said one positive aspect of Nexplanon is that patients have gained less weight, 5 pounds in three years on average, compared to Depo-Provera, a birth control shot. She said she did not have any numbers on how much weight Depo-Provera users gained on average.
Mirena is a hormonal intrauterine device. This contraceptive works for 5 years. Brown said Mirena and Nexplanon can cause irregular bleeding in users for the first six months of use and after six months users may not experience any bleeding.
Finally, the department now offers ParaGard. This is a non-hormonal IUD that works for 10 years. Users should experience no changes to their period, Brown said. She said ParaGard does not have side effects that can affect blood pressure or weight like some hormonal birth control options.
“We’ve experienced good success with these,” she said, estimating that 30 patients have had the devices inserted since March.
Women interested in these new birth control options must first schedule a consultation before insertion. “We provide a lot of education on that consultation visit,” Brown said. She added that the actual procedure can be as short as 15 minutes.
“There is a form of birth control for anyone,” she said.
These new options are available because of Title X funds that became available in Spring 2011, Lampley said. The RCHD received equipment and training with the funds, which come with federal guidelines governing their use and how services may be rendered. For example, parental consent is not required for girls interested in these birth control options. Federal authorities can audit agencies to insure these policies are being followed.
“We have to come up with their guidelines,” Lampley said. She added that until recently, the department relied on state and local funds for these services.
“Title X is the only Federal grant program dedicated solely to providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services,” according to the Department of Health and Human Services website. “The Title X program is designed to provide access to contraceptive services, supplies and information to all who want and need them. By law, priority is given to persons from low-income families.”
Title X was enacted in 1970 as part of the Public Health Service Act. In roughly 75 percent of counties in the U.S., there is at least one clinic that receives this funding.
— Justin Allen can be reached at 704-694-2161, or firstname.lastname@example.org.