When it comes to contraception, over 70% of women in Essex feel they are not receiving enough information on long-acting reversible contraception (LARC).
Even though World Contraception Day took place last week, new research has revealed a low awareness of LARCs with over 80% of women in Essex claiming that they have never discussed LARC options with their GP and almost a third stated they hadn’t had a contraceptive conversation with their healthcare professional in the past year.
Alarmingly, around 50% of pregnancies are still unplanned in the UK, meaning that women are potentially not receiving the right information about the contraception that will work best for them.
“When women think ‘contraception’, they automatically think ‘the pill’, but that’s not the only option out there today,” says Dr Martyn Walling, a specialist in women’s health at Southend University Hospital. “It’s amazing, as in this country, contraception is free yet women don’t know all of their options.”
Indeed, with 15 different forms of contraception available, the Family Planning Association have launched a new campaign to raise awareness of the long-acting reversible contraceptives available to women. The campaign, called Love, Life and LARCs, hopes to encourage more informed discussions between women and their healthcare professional about their contraceptive options.
“GPs are being encouraged to talk about long acting methods of contraception,” says Dr Walling. “The beauty of them is that there’s no daily action. Already, the implant is proving to be a very popular choice and we’ve recently introduced the vaginal ring, with 100 users already registered at the Southend practice, which is a good start.”
LARCs are methods of contraception that require administration less than once per cycle or month and their contraceptive effect is reversible. They include the contraceptive implant, contraceptive injection, IUD (also known as a coil) and IUS (a coil containing hormones).
“I will always tell women the advantages and disadvantages of each form of contraception and get rid of as many myths as I can,” says Dr Walling. “It’s the opportunity to tell women about what could be right for them.
“Although, over the years, women have taught me that they will choose what contraceptive is right for them and if they make the choice, they’re more likely to stick with it.”
“For women, understanding the different forms of contraception and how each might fit her current life stage and style is really important,” adds Natika H Halil, Director of Communications, Health and Wellbeing at the Family Planning Association. “We are delighted to support the Love, Life & LARCs campaign in the hope we can encourage positive conversations between women and their healthcare professionals about what is most suitable for their individual needs.”
- The online research was commissioned and funded by Merck Sharp & Dohme Limited and conducted by One Poll amongst 3,000 women in the UK (including 190 women from the Essex area) aged 16-44 years in July 2013. All participants were currently using a form of contraception or had done so in the past five years.