In the days after Donald Trump was elected, news outlets picked up on what seemed to be a trend: Women, fearing new restrictions on birth control access or changes to the Affordable Care Act, were rushing to get intrauterine devices and other types of long-acting contraception.
“Trump’s victory could be making IUDs even more popular,” one headline suggested.
“Fearing changes under President-elect Trump, women are getting IUDs and stockpiling Plan B,” another read.
Now, a new study backs those anecdotes up with evidence. The research, published Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that the number of commercially insured women who received long-acting, reversible contraceptives jumped in the month after the 2016 election.
“Our findings [suggest] that women with commercial health insurance value contraceptive coverage and that concerns about potential reductions in access or coverage may affect their contraceptive choice,” the authors wrote.
Long-acting, reversible contraceptives, or LARCs, are the most effective type of reversible birth control and can prevent pregnancy for years. They include hormonal IUDs, the copper IUD, and hormonal implants placed under the skin.
The study used a commercial health insurance claims database that included more than 3 million women to look at the mean number of LARC insertions happening in a given weekday. In the month leading up to the 2016 election, there roughly 13.4 LARC insertions each day per 100,000 women. In the 30 business days after the election, that jumped to 16.3. By comparison, there were roughly 13.7 LARC insertions each day during the month after Nov. 8 in 2015.
If the researchers applied that same shift to the 33 million women in the U.S. ages 18 to 45 who had employer-sponsored health insurance in 2016, that would shake out to roughly 700 additional LARC insertions each day.
“Our findings could reflect a response to fears of losing contraceptive coverage because of President Trump’s opposition to the ACA or an association of the 2016 election with reproductive intentions or LARC awareness,” the authors said.
The study echoes a 2017 Athenahealth analysis, which found that IUD prescriptions and procedures rose 19 percent between October and December 2016. That report looked at data from 2,500 doctors’ offices across the U.S. that use the company’s electronic medical record system.
But the findings come with several big caveats. The study doesn’t prove that the election caused the uptick in LARCs. The researchers only looked at women who had been enrolled in commercial insurance for at least a year, so the results can’t be applied to women with public health coverage, no health insurance, or newly commercially insured women. It also only looked at the month following the election. That means the study might not capture women who sought LARCs after the election, but hadn’t yet received one a month after the election.