New birth control methods needed

New contraceptive methods are needed for developing world women, including one in four in sub-Saharan Africa, whose needs for modern birth control are not being met, a study has found.

A 52-page report by the New York-based Guttmacher Institute urged new methods to reach 148 million women in three regions where there are 49 million unintended pregnancies every year resulting in 21 million abortions.

"Sub-Saharan Africa, south central Asia and southeast Asia are home to 69% of women in the developing world who have an unmet need for a modern method," said the study.

"Seven in 10 women with unmet need in the three regions cite reasons for non-use that could be rectified with appropriate methods."

The women wanted to avoid falling pregnant but did not use modern protection due to health fears, infrequent sex habits, recent births or breastfeeding and opposition from partners or others.

Non-contraceptive

New methods that had less non-contraceptive effects and were easier to use by being compatible with infrequent sex and without the knowledge of a partner could have a large impact, said the report.

The other nearly 30% did not use birth control as they were either opposed to contraception, unaware of options, had problems with access or believed they were not fertile.

"The findings make clear that meeting the need for contraception requires not only increased access and counselling, but the development of new methods that better meet women’s needs," said co-author Jacqueline Darroch.

Apart from long-term new developments, current options could be adapted to be made more widely acceptable and easier to use, the institute said, urging more investment.

In total, the needs of 215 million or 26% of reproductive-age women across the developing world who wanted to avoid pregnancy either did not use modern contraceptives or relied on traditional options.

This rose to 38% in the three areas and 39% of women who did not want to fall pregnant in sub-Saharan Africa.

In total, one in four of the latter's total of 195 million women had an unmet need for modern birth control.

(Sapa, May 2011)

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