As a new Channel 4 documentary presented by Davina McCall raises awareness about the state of contraception in the UK, it’s time to make contraceptive choice a reality for everyone.
The introduction of the oral contraceptive pill in the 1960s represents one of the most significant medical advances of the twentieth century. “The pill”, along with subsequent forms of hormonal and non-hormonal contraception, gave women control over their own fertility and ignited a social revolution allowing women to plan their families and enter the workforce.
But today, many in the UK are still not offered the full range of options, and around the world 257 million women and adolescents who wanted to avoid pregnancy are not using contraception [i].
Simphiwe Sesane, Contraceptive and Sexual Health Nurse Consultant at MSI Reproductive Choices UK, who appears alongside Davina in the documentary said:
“Finding the right contraception is life changing, yet too many still struggle to get the information and support they need about the full range of methods. All too often I speak to people who have become pregnant while on contraception waiting lists or because they felt they had no option but to come off their method due to side-effects. It’s frustrating when there are many alternatives that might be better suited to them.
“The same issues affect women around the world. Despite contraception being one of the cheapest and most effective life-saving, poverty-ending, empowering innovations we have, around the world 257 million women and girls who want to avoid pregnancy, still can’t get it. It’s time to complete the contraception revolution and make reproductive choice a reality for all.”
Closing the gap
There are huge disparities in contraceptive access around the world. Younger women have the highest levels of unmet need with 43.2 million women aged 15-24 unable to access contraception, despite being the group for whom the economic and social benefits of contraceptive access are likely to be most substantial [ii]. There are also major geographic inequalities – while 87.9% have access in Norway, only 1.9% do in South Sudan [iii] and across sub-Saharan Africa, one in five sexually active women who want to avoid becoming pregnant are not able to access modern contraception [iv].
According to Public Health England figures, every £1 invested in contraception saves £9 [v]. Yet since 2015, there have been major cuts to services, with the public health grant to local councils to fund sexual health services reduced by over £1bn (24%) [vi]. The lack of access to contraception has been further exacerbated by the cost-of-living crisis and at MSI, we have seen the number of people seeking abortion care at our UK clinics rise by nearly a third (29%) compared to the same time last year (Jan-June).
Louise McCudden, Head of UK Advocacy at MSI Reproductive Choices said:
“Sexual and reproductive health services have been hit by cuts and underinvestment for many years. With waiting times for long-acting contraception methods contributing to a rise in unintended pregnancies, it’s time for serious public health investment in this area – ideally, restoring investment to pre-2015 levels.
“Davina’s documentary also highlights alarming misinformation shared online. The Department of Education needs to remain strongly and explicitly committed to comprehensive, inclusive, evidence-based Relationships, Sex, and Health Education to combat these myths and ensure young people can make informed choices at a crucial time in their lives.”
How MSI can help you access contraception
If you’re unsure about what contraception would be right for you, you can read more information here on how to find the right contraception to suit your needs, including our Digital Contraception Counsellor ‘Choice’. Fill out a questionnaire about your lifestyle, preferences, needs and medical history, and you’ll see a list of the most appropriate contraception options for you.
For anyone considering intrauterine contraception (such as the hormonal coil or non-hormonal coil) we are proud to say that MSI offers four types of anaesthetic, including a spray, gel, injection and cream, and will tailor appointments to meet each individual’s needs.
As seen in the documentary, we have contraception clinics in some areas of England. Get in touch with our team to book a telephone consultation and start your journey to finding the best method of contraception for you.
To learn more about contraception, the different methods, how to prepare for a contraception appointment and some key contraception facts, click on the links below:
- Short-acting methods of contraception (the combined pill, the mini pill, the ring, the patch, and condoms)
- Long-acting methods of contraception (the hormonal coil or IUS, the non-hormonal coil or IUD, the injection and the implant)
- How to prepare for a contraception appointment
- Contraception: The Facts
To find out more about the range of contraceptive methods available and get advice on which method might be right for you, check out our online contraceptive counsellor, ‘Choice’.
[ii] Measuring contraceptive method mix, prevalence, and demand satisfied by age and marital status in 204 countries and territories, 1970–2019: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2019 – The Lancet
[iv] Measuring contraceptive method mix, prevalence, and demand satisfied by age and marital status in 204 countries and territories, 1970–2019: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2019 – The Lancet
[v] Public Health England, 2018.