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why contraception is your best friend

Today is World Contraception Day, and there is no better time for couples and sexually active people – particularly young people – to be informed about sex, reproductive health and contraception. The motto of the day is: ‘It’s Your Life, It’s Your Future, Know Your Options’.

It seems like a pretty simple message. Contraception, whether short or long term, prevents unwanted pregnancy.  Condoms prevent STDs and the spread of HIV/AIDS.  Unless you want either of these things, start using appropriate contraception methods.

As a young woman living in Australia, this is not difficult. My partner, bless his cotton socks, dutifully ensures condoms are always in supply; contraception is literally within arm’s reach (at the supermarket and in the bedroom) at all times.

If your preference is the pill, it’s just as simple. One prescription and you just have to make sure you pop that pill every morning.

The motto for World Contraception Day holds some important messages. It’s Your Life. No one but you is able to take control of your body (in ordinary circumstances). Know Your Options.  There are many contraceptive options for you to choose from: the short term pill and condom, to the longer term IUD and Implanon. We have the power of choice with a staggering amount of information at our disposal.

But I think the key message is really ‘It’s Your Future’. Why do we use contraception? Well, for one, we use condoms to prevent the spread of STDs, HIV/AIDS and other nasties. But the main reason is, arguably,to prevent an unplanned pregnancy.

Planning if and when to fall pregnant is directly and inherently linked to a woman’s future. So what of the girls and women who are unable to access the tools – contraception – to plan their futures? What of the women who don’t know the options because the options simply aren’t there?

That is the case for 222 million girls and women of child-bearing age worldwide today, who want to use modern contraception methods but are unable to access them. No doubt, as a result, more than 41% of the 208 million pregnancies that occur each year are unintended.

That’s over 85 million unintended pregnancies every single year. The unfortunate fact is that most of these unintended pregnancies occur in developing countries, where women living in poverty are giving birth to many children they can’t afford to feed, educate or support. Where menstruating adolescents, who don’t know what contraception is, effectively become children giving birth to children.

What is the number one killer of girls aged 15-19 in the world today? It’s not hunger and malnutrition. It’s not HIV or AIDs. The biggest killer of young girls worldwide is complications that occur in pregnancy and childbirth; complications that occur because their bodies are not physically ready for childbirth; complications that occur because they do not have the ability to adequately space their pregnancies.

World Contraception Day is a campaign whose vision is a world where every pregnancy is wanted. We must respect and be thankful for the access we, as Australian women, have to contraception. Although we may not think about it, when we take control of our contraception use, whatever the method, we are taking control of our futures.

Being informed means being sexually independent, in control and protected. If you want to find out more about contraception options and sexual and reproductive health facts, you can visit the World Contraception Day website.

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