Have you ever been denied access to contraception? New research has found that Australian women are using long-acting contraceptives at half the rate of women in Europe – and I think I know why.
Two years ago a GP refused to give me a contraceptive implant which provides up to 3 years protection against unwanted pregnancy. When I asked him why, he said words to the effect of “you don’t want a foreign object in your body”. Which is ridiculous when you consider all the medical devices implanted in patients each year to treat any number of medical conditions. Why should contraception be any different?
Gynaecologist Dr Kirsten Black, co-author of Australian women need increased access to long-acting reversible contraception published in the Medical Journal of Australia, told News.com.au GPs need better education about long-acting contraceptives such as the implant, injections, patches and vaginal rings.
While the oral contraceptive pill has served women well for 50 years, it has an unacceptably high failure rate resulting in thousands of unintended pregnancies and abortions each year.
“There is evidence from the United States that half of all unintended pregnancies there are due to contraceptive failure when women have to remember to take the pill every day,” says Dr Black.
“Adolescents and young women are especially vulnerable to unintended pregnancy, as they are highly fertile and may be less reliable in their contraceptive use.”
The article at News.com.au also refers to a British study which estimated if just 5 per cent of women of reproductive age using the contraceptive pill switched to long acting contraceptives, there would be 7500 fewer unintended pregnancies.
So where do you go when your local GP denies you access to a long-acting contraceptive? If you live in the city you can access these contraceptives at family planning clinics or at one of the women’s health organisations. Women in rural Australia don’t have this option and it wouldn’t surprise me if the number of unintended pregnancies per capita is higher in rural areas as a result.
But it’s not just the doctors who need to be better educated about modern contraceptives. The amount of misinformation available on the internet about contraception is also responsible for women’s hesitance to try long-acting reversible contraceptives.
Get the facts about long-acting reversible contraception at one of these locations on the web: