Population Matters

Why is better contraception being restricted?

Why is better contraception being restricted?

Sterilisation and Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC) such as the contraceptive implant for women have a much lower failure rate than short-term methods of contraception such as the pill or male condom. Thus the long-term methods are more cost-effective — their use results in significantly fewer unintended pregnancies.


Despite the greater reliability and long-term cost savings of LARC, it is being restricted based on age, residence and other factors in the United Kingdom due to higher short-term costs.

According to a report by the United Kingdom All-Party Parliamentary Group on Sexual and Reproductive Health, because people have to be trained to perform sterilisation or to fit and remove LARC and because those procedures take more time than simply prescribing an oral contraceptive, general practitioners are being pressured to provide the quicker, less-effective methods in the interest of saving money.

Gynecologist visit

In 2012, 16 per cent of lead clinicians in England reported restricting the provision of LARC and 78 per cent of those who did said the restriction was due to financial considerations. As one general practitioner admitted, “We still do not have enough fitters — ultimately everything is financial and training is not free.” Recent government public health spending reductions are likely to result in greater restriction of these services.

“Unintended pregnancies impose significant costs on the National Health Service, on women’s empowerment, on the economy and on the environment,” said Population Matters Chief Executive Simon Ross. “Cost ‘savings’ made by these public health cuts are a false economy and will cost society much more in the long run.”

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