Resident Shelby Apodaca, M.D., recently won first place at the annual meeting of the Texas Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (TAOG) for her research on contraception in older women.
This is the first time a Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso) resident has received a first-place award at the statewide meeting.
For her study, Dr. Apodaca reviewed data taken from more than 1,500 women between the ages of 35 and 44. The review identified negative health trends associated with women who opt for sterilization in their later reproductive years instead of long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) — like injectable contraceptives and intrauterine devices (IUDs). Physicians favor LARC methods over sterilization because they are reversible and carry a lower risk of complications and mortality.
The data showed a correlation between sterilization and African-American women who had not had a check-up in at least a year. On the other hand, women who were using LARC methods were more likely to have a higher level of education and higher number of sexual partners.
“A continued, disparate number of non-Hispanic black women, women with lack of access to health care resources, and women with lower levels of education choose female sterilization,” Dr. Apodaca said. “Providers should focus more on counseling and educating older, non-Hispanic black women about the benefits of LARC.”
Her study also showed that, in general, a majority of older women do not receive regular Ob-Gyn check-ups.
“This indicates that women of advanced maternal age do not receive the same contraceptive care and counseling as their younger counterparts,” Dr. Apodaca said. “Even though a woman may not be planning to have children, it is still extremely important for her to visit a physician regularly.”
Zuber Mulla, Ph.D., an Ob-Gyn professor at TTUHSC El Paso, provided Dr. Apodaca with guidance throughout the study. Assistant Professor Melissa Mendez, M.D., and Research Associate Sheralyn Sanchez, M.P.H., also assisted with the project.
The team was recognized for its work in September.