28 Jan 2020

More women opting for funded contraception - Family Planning

6:22 pm on 28 January 2020

Women waiting on appointments for funded contraception are being attended to after months.

Female doctor holding two kinds of intrauterine device for birth control IUD

Family Planning says they assisted with more than 900 appointments in November/December 2019 than the year before. Photo: 123rf

Family Planning said they were finally catching up on the number of women waiting for funded contraceptives, Mirena and Jaydess.

In November last year, the government started full funding for the Jaydess and Mirena contraceptive IUD devices, causing appointments to book into January this year.

Family Planning said they fitted 943 more Mirena devices in the November-December period last year compared to 2018.

IUDs are a form of long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) that sit inside the uterus to prevent eggs being fertilised. Once inserted they are effective at preventing pregnancy for a number of years (three for Jaydess, five for Mirena) or until they are removed.

A device would normally cost around $340, plus the cost of the appointment and procedure.

Just two days after the announcement last year, appointments were already booked for 2020.

While the funding was liberating for women, clinicians were under pressure to met immense demands, said Family Planning's national nurse advisor Rose Stewart.

"In that period of November and December we did 943 more Mirenas than last year, so it was pretty big in terms of how many more we were doing."

Protocols were changed to allow phone appointments but she said finding appointment times was still difficult.

The 2019 Budget allocated $6 million in annual funding for LARCs, including for insertion and removal.

"It was pretty amazing because there'd been whispers of it. We saw patients in September and October who'd been wanting one but had been waiting for it to be funded " Stewart said.

She is calling for more funding for rural areas and Māori and Pasifika women.