Northamptonshire women increasingly ditching condoms and the pill

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Northamptonshire women are increasingly ditching the pill and condoms in favour of longer-lasting contraception, figures show.

The NHS says women who get their contraception from sexual health clinics are increasingly choosing longer-lasting methods, despite them being more invasive.

In 2017-18, contraceptives like the implant, the coil or the injection were the method of choice for 44% of women visiting clinics.

The tally was 39% in 2014/15.

However, contraceptives like condoms and the pill are still the preferred pick for women - with 56% choosing the short-term method.

NHS guidelines say that well-organised people with regular routines are well-suited to short-term contraceptives - using condoms every time you have sex, or taking the pill every day.

Women wanting a more permanent method can get an intrauterine device - more commonly known as the coil - which can last for up to 10 years.

But having the device fitted can be uncomfortable, and it may initially cause unpleasant side effects like cramping and longer, heavier periods.

The implant, which is put into the upper arm, lasts three years and is very easy to remove. A contraceptive injection covers a shorter period - lasting for 8 to 13 weeks.

In Northamptonshire, 15% of women said they were using the coil as their main method of contraception, while 21% opted for the implant and 7% for the injection.

On the short-term side, 43% of women said they were taking the pill, and 11% said that they used condoms as the main method.

All methods of contraception have advantages and disadvantages, says sexual health charity the Family Planning Association, and there are lots of factors that influence contraceptive choice.

“The combined pill is still a popular choice, and has a range of advantages such as making periods lighter, and reducing PMS symptoms,” said FPA deputy chief executive Bekki Burbidge.

“But you have to remember to take it at around the same time each day, and it can be easy to miss one,” she added. “If it’s not always used according to instructions then it’s only around 91% effective.

“In contrast, long-acting reversible methods are over 99% effective and also really convenient.

“Once you have one fitted you don’t need to think about or remember to use contraception, which gives them a great advantage.”

Ms Burbidge said that ultimately, there is no universal approach to deciding what contraceptive is best to use.

She said: “It all depends on your lifestyle and preferences, and what’s best for you is likely to change over time.”

In Northamptonshire, 4,545 women went to sexual health clinics to get their contraception, rather than going to their GP or opting for over-the-counter methods.

Sexual health clinics are maintained by local councils, rather than the NHS, and many councils have reduced or plan to reduce funding for these services.