Substance use disorder: contraceptive options counseling

What’s New in Contraception?

Contraceptive Technology Conference!

Biologic sexism of STIs

Excess breast cancer deaths after COVID-19

Contraception for patients with medical conditions

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

Treating vulvodynia

Puzzling Over the Hurt Down-Under

Serious Mental Illness and Contraception

New 13-Cycle Vaginal Contraceptive System

The Future of Family Planning in Post-COVID America

New ASCCP Guidelines: Implications for FP

On the alert: mood disorders during 2020 stressors

Sex in the Time of COVID-19

Challenges old and new during the pandemic

Reproductive health in the time of Covid-19

Talking about toys

Missed Pills: The Problem That Hasn’t Gone Away

Find the “yes! . . . and” rather than “no” or “but”

Digital Family Planning: the Future is Now

Irregular Bleeding Due to Contraceptives

When she’s low on libido…

Ouch! Best approaches to menstrual pain

Contraceptive efficacy: understanding how user and method characteristics play their part

Strategizing treatment for chronic heavy menstrual bleeding


Untangling the literature on obesity and contraception

High tech apps for no-tech FABM

Menstrual exacerbation of other medical conditions

From Princeton University: Thomas James Trussell (1949-2018)

The Short and Long of IUD Use Duration

Selecting a Method When Guidance Isn’t Clear-cut

Healthcare in the Time of Digital Expansion

The Scoop on Two New FDA-Approved Contraceptive Methods

Pregnancy of unknown location—meeting the challenge

Big “yes” (with caveats) to CHCs during perimenopause

The role of IUDs (LNG IUDs, too!) in emergency contraception

Combined pills’ effect on mood disorders

Abortion in the U.S.: safe, declining, and under threat

Hope for ovarian cancer screening test

Breast cancer still a small risk with some hormonal contraceptives

New treatment modality for BV

Record rate of HPV-related throat cancer

Viruses in semen potentially transmissible

Don’t Abstain from Your Role in Abstinence

Teens births declining but geographic ‘hotspots’ defy trend

Online Medical Abortion Service Effective and Safe

Do Women Really Need to Wait That Long?

Reassuring news on depression and OC use

PMDD: Genetic clues may lead to improved treatment

Breast cancer risk when there is a family history

Body weight link to breast and endometrial cancers (and 11 others)

Family Planning in 2017 and Beyond

Make Me Cry: Depression Link (Again)?

Managing implant users’ bleeding and spotting

Zika: Updated guidance for providers

Pharmacist-prescribed contraceptives

Hot off the press! 2016 MEC and SPR

Zika virus fears prompt increased request for abortion in nations outlawing abortions

Opioid use epidemic among reproductive-age women

Good news on the family planning home front!

War Against Planned Parenthood Hurts Women

Win-win for both treatment and prevention

Center of the Storm


Menopause, mood, mental acuity, and hormone therapy

Emergency contraception for teens

Postpartum Contraception: Now, Not Later

Reproductive tract infections, sexually transmitted infections, or sexually transmitted diseases: “a rose by any other name…”

Are we practicing what we preach?

Be alert to VTE in hormonal contraceptive users

LARC among teens increased 15-fold, but not enough

Brain cancer and hormonal contraception

Free tools: Easy access to the US Medical Eligibility Criteria for Contraceptive Use

Alcohol consumption when pregnancy is unwanted or unintended

Latest Data on Contraceptive Use in the United States

LateBreaker sampler from Contraceptive Technology conference

Emergency Contraceptive Pill Efficacy and BMI/Body Weight

Handout on Unintended Pregnancy and Contraceptive Choice

Ask About Withdrawal (Really!)

Rules to Practice By: Safety First and Cleanliness is Close to. . .

What’s Vanity Fair Got Against the NuvaRing?

Promising New Treatment for Hepatitis C

Numbers matter, so make them simple for patients

The Recession’s Effect on Unintended Pregnancies

Lessons Learned from the Contraceptive CHOICE Project: The Hull LARC Initiative

Applying the “New” Cervical Cytology Guidelines in Your Practice

Acute Excessive Uterine Bleeding: New Management Strategies

Medical indications for IUD use in teens

Whatever happened to PID?

Update on Emergency Contraception New and Improved

Healthcare in the Time of Digital Expansion
October 2018


While the expansion of information technology has created a digital universe of medical resources, finding the most reliable resource with the right information can be a challenge. Increases in the volume of digital information may have the opposite effect of decreasing the chances of finding the most appropriate source of information in the least amount of time. 1  Brian Nguyen and Leo Han write in the new edition of Contraceptive Technology that there exists no restriction on the content that can be uploaded to the internet or on the types of apps that are developed for mobile phones.2  These digital resources do not necessarily receive oversight from experts and can vary widely in their quality.3  Unlike traditional print sources that have publishers and editors to ensure the quality of content, digital resources do not have the same controls.

While digital resources for health and medical information can be more comprehensive than those that can be provided by a health care practitioner (HCP) during a clinical encounter, these resources do not always relay how the information should be used or how it may fit into the context of a patient’s condition or concern. For this reason, helping patients navigate the digital landscape plays a new but increasingly important role in the overall counseling that HCPs provide, advise Nguyen and Han. As more than 75% of patients will begin their search for health information by using popular search engines such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo, they may face difficulty in parsing out the most appropriate sources for their queries.4  HCPs today should thus have a repository of useful digital resources. HCPs can then direct patients to these trusted sites or applications for further information.

In a systematic review of 79 studies that examined the accuracy and utility of digital health resources found on the internet, nearly 75% of the studies expressed concerns regarding the quality of digital content.5  While there are many high-quality digital resources available to consumers, there are arguably many more “resources” that represent anecdotal evidence, specific opinion, or commercial interest.

Furthermore, in a study examining how lay users searched for answers to specific health-related queries on the internet, users endorsed the importance of the credibility of their sources of information; however, in observations of their browsing practices, these users never examined the “About Us” sections of websites to verify credibility and, when interviewed, could not recall the sources from where they derived their health information.6 Inexperienced or unguided users of digital resources may likely be met with frustration, misinformation, or incomplete information.

With quality, utility, and staying power in mind, Nguyen and Han culled digital reproductive health resources to create a foundational list in Contraceptive Technology, that they hope may become a springboard for HCPs to collaborate with patients in the digital space. Below are the URLs and descriptions of those they designate as the “top three” family planning websites.

Top three family planning websites: 

Organization URL Content
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Essential resource for healthcare providers. Reliable and regularly-updated home to the:

  • U.S. Medical Eligibility Criteria (MEC)
  • Selected Practice Recommendations  for Contraceptive Use (SPR)
  • Sexually Transmitted Disease [STD] Treatment Guidelines
  • Updates on infectious disease outbreaks (e.g., Zika, drug resistant-gonorrhea)
Bedsider Essential resource recommendation for patients. Designed with the patient’s interests and health literacy in mind, the website delivers accurate information with tools to help patients obtain access to and decide on an ideal method of contraception.
The Emergency Contraception Website Resource for research, policy, and clinical information about emergency contraception (EC), including the appropriate Yuzpe dose by pill-type and where to direct patients to obtain EC.

While lay consumers of digital information and resources are at the greatest risk of encountering the shortcomings of digital health resources, early learners in the medical field are also at risk, given reports that medical students frequently rely on digital resources for their learning. Senior medical faculty have raised concerns about the ability of early learners to discern reputable from non¬reputable sources,7 which may ultimately have an impact on how students counsel and practice when they become HCPs.

The amount of clinical research being published continues to grow at an increasing rate.10 Healthcare providers are thus responsible for more information than ever and expected to constantly maintain up-to-date knowledge of medical evidence, healthcare policy, and professional guidelines. Fortunately, digital resources help HCPs maintain their expertise. Below are Nguyen’s and Han’s “top three” reproductive health care apps for health care providers:

Top three “must-have” family planning apps (available on Apple and Android platforms):

Source Content
Contraceptive Guidance for Health Care Providers from the CDC Easy-to-use, easily searchable mobile app version of the U.S. Medical Eligibility Criteria and Selected Practice Recommendations (MEC/SPR).
STD Treatment Guidelines from the CDC Easy-to use mobile app with the most evidence-based screening and treatment regimens from the CDC.
Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality’s Electronic Preventative Services Selector (AHRQ ePSS) Interactive, patient characteristic-specific mobile app that compiles and simplifies preventative health recommendations from the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) for the primary care clinician.
  1. Damman OC, Hendriks M, Rademakers J, Delnoij DM, and Groenewegen PP. How do healthcare consumers process and evaluate comparative healthcare information? A qualitative study using cognitive interviews. BMC Pub Health 2009;9:423.
  2. Nguyen B, Han L. Digital resources for health & medical information. Appendix 1. In: Hatcher RA, Nelson A, Trussell J, et al. Contraceptive Technology. 21st edition. New York, NY: Ayer Company Publishers, Inc., 2018.
  3. Hirsch M, Aggarwal S, Barker C, Davis CJ, and Duffy JM. Googling endometriosis: a systematic review of information available on the Internet. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2016;216:451-458.
  4. Fox S, Duggan M. Health online 2013. Washington, DC: Pew Internet & American Life Project. Accessed Sep 20, 2017.
  5. Eysenbach G, Powell J, Kuss O, and Sa ER. Empirical studies assessing the quality of health information for consumers on the world wide web: a systematic review. JAMA 2002;287:2691-700.
  6. Eysenbach G, Kohler C. How do consumers search for and appraise health information on the world wide web? Qualitative study using focus groups, usability tests, and in-depth interviews. BMJ 2002;324:573-7.
  7. Implementing digital resources for clinicians’ and patients’ varying needs. Med Inform Internet Med 2005;30:107-22.