Ob/gyn group calls for patient screening of sexual coercion

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It's not uncommon for abusive men to sabotage their female partners'birth control as a way of exerting power over them, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Men have been known to poke holes in diaphragms or condoms, hide birth control pills or even forcibly remove patches and IUDs.

In response to a growing body of studies and reports on the subject -- a number of them conducted by Elizabeth Miller, chief of Adolescent Medicine at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh -- the College wants doctors to offer abused women and girls more long-acting methods of contraception that cannot be easily detected, such as implants, injections or IUDs with the strings cut short so they won't be noticed.

It also wants them to screen patients more effectively and frequently for coercion and refer them for help in leaving abusive relationships, something that not all OB/GYNs do.

The new opinion by the College's Committee on Health Care for Underserved Women will be published in the February 2013 issue of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology and was scheduled to go online late today.

"It's incredibly useful to have a large organization like ACOG recognize the critical importance of intimate partner violence and coercion in women's health," said Dr. Miller, whose team is in the midst of a large randomized study on the topic in Western Pennsylvania, funded by the National Institutes of Health. Their earlier pilot project in northern California found that of 1,000 women coming into clinics, a quarter were living with reproductive coercion and half with partner violence.

More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

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Sally Kalson can be reached at skalson@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1610.


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