Women urged to ditch the Pill and opt for longer-lasting contraceptives
WOMEN in Scotland are being urged to consider alternative contraceptives to the Pill or condoms in an effort to cut the number of unwanted pregnancies and repeat abortions.
A campaign has been launched to highlight the longer-lasting alternatives women have in birth control, such as contraceptive implants and other devices.
At the moment, only 4 per cent of women in Scotland use these types of contraception – but health officials want to increase this to 10 per cent.
NHS Health Scotland said the methods would not be suitable for everyone, but many women who tried them found they fitted well into their lives.
Sexual health charities welcomed the campaign, which is set to be followed in England. The forms of contraception being highlighted by the campaign are implants, the intrauterine device (IUD) and the intrauterine system (IUS).
Implants are put just under the skin of the arm, while the others are fitted inside the womb in a short procedure.
The devices are effective for between three and ten years and fertility quickly returns when they are removed. But they do not protect against sexually transmitted infections, meaning that women would still have to use a condom with a new partner.
Shirley Fraser, the health improvement programme manager at NHS Health Scotland, said they wanted women aged 18 to 44 to look at other contraceptive options, rather than just turning to the Pill or condoms.
"We know that they are over 99 per cent effective at preventing unintended pregnancies. But most women when they go to their GP to ask for contraception just usually say, 'Can I have the Pill?', and they get what they ask for, rather than opening up a conversation about what the most effective option for them might be."
Ms Fraser said only 4 per cent of women used these three types of contraception, compared with more than 50 per cent who used the Pill, condoms or a combination of both.
"We have got rising rates of repeat terminations. Most of that is because, when people use condoms or the Pill, they are not using them consistently. They forget to take it or use it. These methods, once they are fitted, you can forget about them. You can use them if you have had a baby, if you want to delay having a baby; you can use them at any age, and they last between three and ten years," she said.
Ms Fraser said they wanted to explode myths, such as the belief that these forms of contraception made women put on weight, or meant that it took longer to get their fertility back.
She added that longer-lasting contraception could have some side-effects, such as headaches or heavier periods, but in most cases these did not last long.
The campaign will include posters in clothes shop changing rooms, in cinemas and in leisure centres, with radio adverts planned in the future.
Public health minister Shona Robison said the Scottish Government was committed to reducing the numbers of both unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. She said the latest campaign was part of their wider plans to improve sexual health.
"It aims to make women more aware of longer-lasting reversible contraceptives and increase their use," she said.
Natika Hali, from the fpa (Family Planning Association), said: "Fpa has long campaigned that contraception isn't just a medical decision, it's a lifestyle choice as well.
"So we're extremely pleased that NHS Health Scotland is highlighting three of the most effective methods in such a positive way."
DAWN Hall had been using the Pill for 11 years when her doctor recommended she try another form of contraception.
She had suffered migraines for many years and her GP believed the Pill could be making it worse.
So she switched to using the intrauterine system (IUS) – or coil – which is fitted in the womb and releases the hormone progesterone.
Ms Hall, 31, said she had not suffered migraines since switching and no longer had to worry about taking a pill every day.
The project manager from Irvine said: "It was not very comfortable getting it fitted, especially not having had children.
"But then once it's in you don't have to worry about it. The first couple of days afterwards was a bit sore, just like having cramps.
"But after a while it was no trouble at all."
Ms Hall said another benefit was that because the coil contained progesterone, she no longer had periods.
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Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 13 C
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Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
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Wind direction: North east