World Contraception Day: A celebration and a call to action

On World Contraception Day 2012, the UCSF Bixby Center celebrates the positive impact of contraception around the globe. Voluntary use of contraceptives allows women to decide if and when to have a child—and empowers them to raise healthier and more prosperous families. Use of contraceptives in developing countries already prevents 218 million unintended pregnancies, 118,000 maternal deaths, and 1.8 million infant deaths each year.

We also see room for improvement: research shows that not all women’s needs are met by the current contraceptive options. Women’s experiences with side effects and low effectiveness in real world conditions are major flaws of many methods. The most effective reversible methods, the implant and intrauterine device, require a highly skilled healthcare provider for placement and removal, and they can be prohibitively expensive. We must invest now in an array of new contraceptives that enhance user control, have added health benefits like the prevention of HIV, and that meet women’s needs.