The EngenderHealth News Blog
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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Good news about increased IUD use in the US

Here at EngenderHealth, we are encouraged by the recent news that IUD is an increasingly popular contraceptive method in the United States. We know through our work in the field that when correct information about the device and high quality health services are offered, the IUD is a safe, effective, and acceptable form of family planning.

Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the results of its National Survey of Family Growth. The results of the survey, which was conducted from 2006 to 2008, show that IUD use in the US increased from 2 percent in 2002 to 5.5 percent in 2006-2008. Among women with two or more children, the increase was even greater, from 3 to 11 percent. There are now more than 2 million women using IUDs in this country.

As a long-acting contraceptive method, the IUD is one of the most effective forms of birth control. It can be used for medium and long-term planning, preventing pregnancy for up to 12 years, and is reversible.

From 2006-2008, during the same time period as the family growth survey was being conducted U.S., EngenderHealth’s ACQUIRE Project team worked with Kenya’s Ministry of Health to expand IUD use in the country’s Kisii District. In the East African country, as in the U.S., the number of women using an IUD to prevent pregnancy dropped significantly in the past two decades.

In Kisii, EngenderHealth worked with local partners to ensure this convenient and low-cost contraceptive method was more widely available and accepted by improving family planning counseling so Kenyan women could make informed choices and by providing trainings in IUD insertion and removal. In just one year, IUD use in Kisii District tripled.

Read more about how the IUD is saving lives in Ghana in this recent article by EngenderHealth’s Medical Director, Dr. Roy Jacobstein.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Action Alert: Urge Congress to End Fistula

Today, EngenderHealth joined a broad coalition of organizations in applauding Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Rep. Michael Castle (R-DE) for introducing important legislation that will help transform the lives of millions of women worldwide. The Obstetric Fistula Prevention, Treatment, Hope and Dignity Restoration Act of 2010, H.R. 5441, would authorize funding to prevent obstetric fistula and treat women suffering from this debilitating condition. Read the joint press release here.

“We are thrilled to see that the bill recognizes the importance of partnering with national governments and institutions and strengthening local capacity as the way forward,” said Ana Langer, M.D., President of EngenderHealth. “We know this is the most sustainable approach to preventing and treating obstetric fistula. This captures the spirit and intent of the Obama Administration’s Global Health Initiative.”

H.R. 5441 was introduced just days before the start of Women Deliver, the largest-ever conference on maternal and reproductive health, convened in Washington, DC, from June 7–9, 2010. Download the full legislation here (PDF, 41KB).

Take a moment now to write to your representatives today and ask them to co-sponsor the bill.

Learn more about Fistula Care, which is bringing vital fistula prevention and treatment services to women in 11 countries, with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The 50th Anniversary of the Pill: A Moment to Reflect and Recommit to Expanding Options

By Lynn Bakamjian, Director, RESPOND Project

The flurry of media attention around the 50th anniversary of the oral contraceptive (popularly known as “the pill”) has been a great reminder to those of us who came of age during this time of the advances that women in the United States were able to make once they had the means to safe, available, and (mostly) affordable contraception.

On a personal level, having the pill as an option provided me with the knowledge and comfort that whenever I needed to, I had the means to manage my fertility and pursue my education and career without worrying about a poorly timed or unwanted pregnancy. As I reflect on what the pill has meant to generations of women, including my own, I cannot imagine how different my life might have been without it.

And while there are many blog posts and news articles about the impact that this female-controlled, easy-to-use contraceptive had on women’s lives here in the United States, I am reminded that this is, unfortunately, not yet the case for many women and couples in developing countries.

More than 200 million women around the world have a desire to use contraception but are currently not using any effective method. This unmet need is largely due to lack of available and affordable options, to fear and concerns about safety due to misconceptions about contraceptive methods, and sometimes even to opposition by husbands or family members.

There are many options that can provide women with a choice that meets their particular family planning needs—while the pill is great, it’s not the only method. In many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, many women exceed their desired family size by one or more children, which points to a greater need for options beyond short-acting methods such as the pill, especially underutilized options like intrauterine devices, implants, and sterilization. In most developing countries, however, contraceptive choice is elusive; rarely do women have the range of methods available to meet their needs.

As we mark this milestone in American history, let us remember the hundreds of millions of women who are living today, like American women were a half century ago, in fear of unintended pregnancy, and let us honor them with renewed commitment and action to bring them not only the pill, but the whole wide range of family planning methods that all women deserve.