Female Contraception: A Health Issue?
In the wake of the presidential primaries, the United States is seeing government and health issues continue to be intertwined. In the case of reproductive rights, stories are told through the political lens and as a civil rights issue, rather than focusing on health education and insurance coverage. This was not always the case.
One of the oldest known medical texts of any kind, the Kahun Gynecological Papyrus, refers to the techniques used to avert fertilization, otherwise known as birth control.
Though contraception methods are now modernized, misinformation about birth control and lack of health education continues to be a deep-rooted nationwide issue.
Recently an overabundance of news has increased confusion, but overall there are three important issues.
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that under new healthcare reform, certain women’s preventive services like birth control will be completely covered. Bottom line: no more co-pays! However, protestors are now applying pressure on the government to revoke this seemingly huge step forward in women’s health.
- Despite FDA recommendations, it was decided that morning-after emergency medicine, known as “Plan B” will NOT be available over-the-counter for teenagers under age 17.
- The FDA has released warnings about blood clot risk from popular birth control brands like Yaz and birth control patch Ortho Evra.
These issues are of great importance to women. Unfortunately, it is frightening to see how birth control is portrayed in today’s current news climate. Vital information is combined with political rhetoric and fearful sound bites, diluting the message. On top of that, key points are not reaching the audience who is most directly affected by these issues, the average female.
As noted by Sarah Brown of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and penned by one of my favorite health writers, Lauran Neergaard, “the vast majority of sexually active adults are in a fog about modern contraception and they don’t know enough to make a reasonable choice.”
Moving forward, we need to realize, in order to reform health economics, we need to also revise health dialogue and move away from political opinions. As every communications professional will tell you, make things simple, have three core messages, and have supporting points that are easy for the busy, multitasking consumer to absorb.
In regards to the birth control conversation, these are mine:
- A new healthcare act announced earlier this year stated that birth control will be completely covered by insurance, meaning no-copays – however anti-women’s health groups are making their voices heard.
- Protests have prompted the White House to consider a “broad exemption to health plans sponsored by employers who object to such coverage for moral and religious reasons.”
- Visit The Planned Parenthood Federation of America to sign a petition that encourages President Obama to stay strong against these anti-choice groups.
- Emergency contraception, known as “the morning after pill” which may help prevent unwanted pregnancies, will not be available at pharmacies without a prescription for teenagers under age 17.
- Despite FDA recommendations, emergency contraceptives, which may help prevent pregnancies, will not be moved to pharmacy shelves.
- This move represents a huge educational opportunity about the risks of unprotected sex and options for sexually active young women.
- Modern forms of birth control like Yaz and Ortho Evra likely carry a higher risk of blood clots than older drugs, but the benefits outweigh the risk.
- Despite FDA concerns over labels, gynecologists agree that clotting is rare and continue to reaffirm these birth control methods are safe and effective.
- Be sure to speak with your doctor about birth control choices and make sure you are using the best contraceptive for you.
Want to read about more women’s health issues? Follow Tracy @jpawomenshealth.
More about the author: Tracy Gurrisi.