We take a look at the contraceptive options available in Australia.
In the June issue of CHOICE in 1963, CHOICE heralded the arrival of the oral contraceptive pill to Australia. “The ‘pill’ – one of the most effective methods of birth control – is now available in Australia on the prescription of a doctor,” we wrote.
For the princely sum of 15 shillings, we offered our members a copy of The Consumers’ Union Report on Family Planning, “prepared for the use solely of doctors, clinics, social workers and married couples who are seeking such information on the advice of their doctors”.
Seven years later, in CHOICE August 1970, we argued that “[the pill] is effective – more effective than any other common method of contraception – [and] easy to use.”
Half a century has passed since the pill hit our shores, yet it is still the most popular method of contraception. But what was true then is not true now. In practice, the pill is less effective than a large number of products now available on the market – the implant, IUDs and the injection all have higher efficacy rates. So why aren’t more people using alternatives to the pill?
“Women tend to stick to the same contraceptive they start with, but their contraceptive needs are likely to change over the course of their reproductive life,” says Dr Deborah Bateson, medical director of Family Planning NSW and spokesperson for Sexual Health and Family Planning Australia. “What suits someone at 18 is different to what suits someone who is postnatal and/or in her 40s [or] 50s.
“There’s a lack of awareness and information about newer options. People may discount methods and think they’re unsuitable when in fact they may be suitable.”
In a report on current contraceptive management in Australian general practice, published in the Medical Journal of Australia in July this year, the authors wrote: “While contraception and reproductive health are core aspects of general practice, in Australia little is known about contraceptive management by GPs, what occurs during a contraceptive consultation, and how this affects contraceptive use and reproductive health outcomes.”