Young people urged to visit family planning clinics, even in lockdown

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Covid-19 is keeping people away from clinics, but has other unintended risks
Covid-19 is keeping people away from clinics, but has other unintended risks

Fourways based non-profit Witkoppen Clinic is calling for increased awareness of available contraceptive methods.

"With the outbreak of Covid-19, we’ve seen a decrease in the number of people visiting the clinic for family planning," says Thembisile Makhomboti, Head of Preventative Department at Witkoppen Clinic.  

"With lockdown restrictions easing up, we want to encourage people to educate themselves, or to contact their healthcare provider to find out which contraception method best suits their health and lifestyle," he adds. 

As we mark World Contraception Day, which takes place on 26 September, the clinic reminds young South Africans to make informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health.

This can reduce unwanted pregnancies, as well as the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). 

Unintended pregnancies 

The most common methods of contraception available in South Africa include male and female condoms; contraceptive injection, patch, or implant; oral contraceptives (the pill); IUD loops; emergency contraceptives (the morning after pill); and vasectomy.  

Makhomboti explains that the vast majority of unintended pregnancies are among people who are either not using any contraception, or are using it inconsistently.

"Unintended pregnancies contribute to poor maternal and child health and can carry steep social and economic costs for women in their families," he says. "For young people in particular, contraception allows them to put off having children until they are ready to have a family."  

HIV and STIs

Unintended pregnancy is not the only risk of unprotected sex, and contraception is vital in the fight against HIV and other STIs.

Unchecked, these can lead to cervical cancer, infertility, poor pregnancy and birth outcomes, as well as increased risk of acquiring new or transmitting existing STIs.

Only male and female condoms provide dual protection against both unintended pregnancy and STIs, including HIV. 

"Knowing your HIV status is another important aspect of contraception, as it enables people to make informed decisions about preventing transmission. Anyone who has had unprotected sex should be tested so that they can get onto treatment, if necessary," Makhomboti warns.

Submitted to Parent24 by Witkoppen Clinic

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