Essential Tools

Staying up-to-date on contraceptive technologies and practices ensures the best outcomes for your patients. Trustworthy and insightful resources are below to help you do just that. Here you’ll find easy access to current guidelines, refresher courses on birth control and best practices, information regarding common misperceptions about birth control, training opportunities and support.

Guidelines

Contraception

STDs/STIs

Cervical Cancer

Key Actions

  • If your patient desires contraception, use the Quick Start protocol and get it started today. There is no need to wait until the next Sunday or the next menstrual period to initiate a method. Tell your patients to start their method (including pill, patch, ring or Depo) right away, no matter where they are in their menstrual cycle. If they have had unprotected intercourse in the previous five days, offer emergency contraception and then follow up with the Quick Start protocol. Instruct your patients to use a backup method, such as condoms for the first week.

  • If contraception is requested or refills are required, only a targeted clinical evaluation is required. There is no need for a pelvic exam or Pap smear to initiate contraception. Refills should be given as needed to prevent any gaps in coverage.

  • One of the main reasons that patients (especially minors) do not discuss personal issues with their health providers is their concern about privacy. Explain how personal medical is protected in your practice and how your practice is in compliance with state and federal laws that protect patient confidentiality. Clarify for your patient your billing practices and if insurance information will be sent to the patient or to the policy holder. Also, in Colorado, minors of any age can consent on their own to STD testing, and all methods of contraception and pregnancy testing. Understanding Minor Consent and Confidentiality in Colorado can provide more useful information.

Long Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC)

  • Chances are you’ve had a patient, friend or family member who has experienced an unintended pregnancy even while using birth control. Or perhaps the last time you saw your patient she was taking birth control pills, but then stopped using them because she had trouble with bleeding or with getting refills. Contraceptives are very effective when they are used correctly and consistently, but many methods are dependent on the user to remember, take, and refill. Also, common side effects or a change in relationship status often cause women to stop a method on their own.

    The good news is there are long acting reversible contraceptives (LARC), which are highly effective and practically effortless. Once they’re properly placed, patients don’t have to worry about unintended pregnancy for years, and if their desires about pregnancy change, these methods are easily removed.

    Learn more about LARC and its many benefits at the following sites

  • The research is in and the CDC, WHO and contraceptive experts around the world agree that IUDs are safe for almost all women, regardless of age or whether or not they’ve had a pregnancy or a child. You might be surprised to learn how few contraindications there are.

  • Even though implants and IUDs are a great contraceptive option for teens, only a tiny percentage use them for birth control in the United States. Studies show that they are safe, effective and very low-maintenance, and may be the best option for young women.

Emergency Contraception

Emergency contraception (EC) is a safe and effective birth control method for your patients not only when they need it, but also before the need arises (prophylactically). Counseling patients to keep EC pills on hand means that they are more likely to take it when it’s most effective (within the first five days after unprotected intercourse).

  • There is a lot of misinformation out there about EC, including how to get it and how it works.  beforeplay.org can help locate health centers and pharmacies that provide EC, including low-cost options if that is a concern for your patients.

    You can also help educate patients about how EC works (i.e. it doesn’t cause abortion; it should be taken within five days of having unprotected sex; the sooner you take it, the more effective it is, etc.). When providing EC in the health center setting, this may also be a great time to talk with your non-contracepting patients about starting a more reliable and consistent method.

  • No exam or testing is needed prior to prescribing emergency contraception, and there are no medical contraindications to the use of EC pills except pregnancy. If a woman is already pregnant, EC pills will not work and will not harm an existing pregnancy.

    There are five dedicated emergency contraceptive pills available in the United States: ella, Plan B One-Step, Next Choice One Dose, Take Action and My Way. Plan B One-Step,  Next Choice, One Dose, Take Action and My Way are available without prescription for females 17 years and older, however ella requires a prescription for women of any age.

    There are also a number of combination (estrogen and progesterone) birth control pills that can be taken in two doses 12 hours apart as BC as EC. This can be a convenient alternative for women already using one of these birth control pills since she will have them on hand. Include instructions on how many birth control pills to take in each of the two doses if she should need emergency contraception.

Provider Training

Colorado unintended pregnancy rates remain high and local providers and educators are uniquely positioned to help reverse this trend. All providers who see women and men during their reproductive years can focus on activities prior to conception, thus increasing the chance that a pregnancy is desired and planned.

While family planning is a common health service provided by physicians, there is evidence that the full range of methods are not being offered or provided. Appropriate and adequate education and training opportunities for providers are needed to ensure patients receive the care they want and need. Providers can find up-to-date information on training opportunities with the latest contraceptive information and technologies and, in some cases, earn CME credit.

Support for Health Educators

Serving as a valuable resource for individuals and organizations within their community, health educators are often the first point of contact when it comes to educating the public about birth control and reproductive health care services. Health educators play a key role in answering a wide range of questions from patients. That’s why staying up to date on best practices is essential to providing quality care and keeping your community informed.

See the list of specific sex education resources for health educators, as well as providers, below. If you work with teens, you can also check out our Resources Page.