Women are being pressured to have contraceptive implants because NHS staff don’t trust them to take the pill, report claims
- Women who are young, ethnic or considered unsuitable parents are ‘targeted’
- Many face a struggle getting the contraceptive removed if they change mind
- One distressed woman said she even tried to cut one out of her arm herself
Women are being pressured into having contraceptive implants and coils because doctors do not trust them to take the pill, a report reveals.
Those who are young, from ethnic minorities or considered unsuitable parents may be disproportionately targeted, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (Bpas) says.
Many then face a struggle getting the contraceptive removed if they change their mind – with some only persuading healthcare workers to take them out by pretending to have switched to a same-sex relationship. One distressed woman told researchers she even tried to cut one out of her arm herself in desperation.
Long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) is the most effective method of birth control and includes coils, implants and injections. These can be effective for up to ten years but often require an expert to fit and remove them.
Women are being pressured into having contraceptive implants and coils because doctors do not trust them to take the pill, a report reveals. Stock picture
Forty-four per cent of women in contact with sexual and reproductive health services use LARC – up from 25 per cent a decade ago.
More than half a million are prescribed each year. But 43.8 per cent of women surveyed by Bpas said they had felt ‘pressure’ to choose LARC over user-dependent contraception, such as the pill.
And 56 per cent of those who sought removal faced difficulties getting it done, the survey of 983 women found.
Health officials are encouraged to promote LARC as it is highly effective at preventing unwanted pregnancies and does not depend on users remembering to take it.
But the report warns: ‘Assumptions about who can use contraception responsibly and who is ready for parenting can limit users’ ability to access care and make free choices and decisions about their own contraception.’
One 21-year-old told researchers: ‘Myself and many of my friends at university were pushed to use LARC by mostly female NHS nurses and doctors. The insinuation or outright comments made by these medical professionals were that we were too young/irresponsible to use a contraceptive method other than LARC.
Many then face a struggle getting the contraceptive removed if they change their mind – with some only persuading healthcare workers to take them out by pretending to have switched to a same-sex relationship. Stock picture of contraceptive implant just before it is implanted
‘These comments… seemed to be founded on no other evidence than the stereotype that because we were all young, sexually active women at university we must also be irresponsible, promiscuous and forgetful.’ Another said she was told to use LARC simply because she was fat.
The report, produced in collaboration with Lancaster University and other charities, says a shortage of sexual health clinics makes it difficult for women to access contraception and have it removed. Time pressures also leave staff with little opportunity to offer comprehensive advice.
Clare Murphy, chief executive of Bpas, said: ‘LARC can be a brilliant method that gives women the most effective protection against unwanted pregnancy. But like all technologies, it can be used to control as well as liberate. The experiences uncovered in this research give us real cause for concern.’