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What qualities of long-acting reversible contraception do women perceive as desirable or undesirable? A systematic review

Jacqueline Coombe A B , Melissa L. Harris A and Deborah Loxton A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Research Centre for Generational Health and Ageing, Faculty of Health and Medicine, University of Newcastle, University Drive, Callaghan, NSW 2308, Australia.

B Corresponding author. Email: jacqueline.coombe@uon.edu.au

Sexual Health 13(5) 404-419 https://doi.org/10.1071/SH15189
Submitted: 24 September 2015  Accepted: 22 May 2016   Published: 29 July 2016

Abstract

Little research examining qualities of contraception that make them attractive or unattractive to users, particularly young women, exists. The aim of this study is to systemically review the evidence regarding desirable and undesirable qualities of long-acting reversible contraception (LARC), including intrauterine devices, the implant and the injection, as perceived by women. Five electronic databases were searched in May 2015 using terms related to LARC and method preference or decision-making. Studies were included if they concerned women aged 18–23 years from developed countries and reported on perceived positive or negative qualities of LARC. Thirty articles were deemed relevant. Five key themes emerged under which qualities were categorised; including: (1) impact on bleeding; (2) impact on the body; (3) device-specific characteristics; (4) general characteristics; and (5) perceptions and misbeliefs. Fit and forget, high efficacy and long-term protection were considered the top desirable qualities of LARC. Undesirable qualities varied among the LARC methods; however, irregular bleeding, painful insertion and removal procedure, weight gain and location in the body were among those most commonly reported. The contraceptive benefits of LARC, including their high efficacy and longevity, are generally considered to be positive qualities by women, while the potential impact of side-effects on the body are considered as negative qualities. This information is crucial in the clinical setting as it provides practitioners with a greater understanding of the qualities women do and do not like about LARC methods. Discussion about these qualities, positive and negative, during consultations about contraception may increase rates of uptake.


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