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Rural Health Information Hub

Considerations for Women and People who are Pregnant When Implementing MOUD Programs

Women with opioid use disorder (OUD) experience a different set of risk factors, consequences, and barriers to accessing treatment for OUD compared to men. Because of the biological and sociological differences between women and men, women stand to benefit from gender-responsive services. To improve treatment for women, rural programs providing medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD) can seek to partner with a range of social service agencies that target women and families. These partnerships may support training, referrals, and co-location of services for women. Rural MOUD programs can ensure their policies and practices acknowledge gender differences.

There are also special considerations for treating pregnant people with OUD. Some medical providers hesitate to prescribe medications to those who are pregnant due to concern of harming the fetus. This may result in pregnant people avoiding medical care for OUD; however, data show that MOUD is an effective approach to integrating prenatal care and treatment for OUD.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's (SAMHSA) clinical guidance indicates that healthcare providers should make individualized treatment decisions when treating pregnant people. There are also state- and national-level guidelines for treating pregnant people that rural MOUD programs should consider during implementation.

Resources to Learn More

Final Report: Opioid Use, Misuse, and Overdose in Women
Summarizes key findings from a 2016 national meeting of experts to examine the prevention, treatment, and recovery concerns for women who misuse opioids, have OUD, and/or overdose on opioids.
Organization(s): Office on Women's Health (OWH)
Date: 7/2017

Medication-Assisted Treatment in Pregnancy
Provides information on legislative trends regarding access to MOUD for pregnant women. Includes considerations regarding program implementation, funding for treatment, provider awareness, and future state policy actions.
Organization(s): Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO)
Date: 4/2020