Increasing incidence of STIs as long acting contraceptive use escalates

With the increased use of Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARC) among New Zealand teenage girls and women, there has been a decline in prescriptions for Emergency Contraception (otherwise known as the Morning After Pill) and an increase in the incidence of STIs, according to an article on Stuff.co.nz.

Jadelle, a second generation Norplant contraceptive comprising of two rods which are inserted in the upper arm, has been free for New Zealand women since 2010.  The uptake has been high with 13,600 Jadelle implants last year (2012).  Jadelle releases levonorgestrel into the women’s system over a five year period.  It works in three ways:

1.  prevents ovulation;
2. prevents conception;
3. if the first two actions do not work, then it prevents the newly conceived human being from implanting in the womb.

Another long acting contraceptive commonly used by New Zealand women is the IUD (either Copper or Mirena), these contraceptives are not free.  These too act as abortifacients at least some of the time.

One of the problems with young people using long acting reversible contraception, is the likelihood of increased promiscuity and the very common incidence of “serial monogamy”.  Long acting contraception gives girls permission to take sexual risks as pregnancy is usually not an outcome (although pregnancy can still occur).  There is also clinical evidence to suggest that young girls in particular are more likely to contract STIs because of their physical and immunological immaturity.

During the same time period, Rotorua has seen a decrease in the number of births to teenage girls under the age of 20.  According to Tania Pinfold of Rotovegas Youth Health, abortions in Rotorua have declined also.  Over 400 Jadelle implants have been fitted in women over the last few years in Rotorua, and Jadelle is in part thanked for this.

While long acting reversible contraceptives such as Jadelle and IUDs appear on the surface to be good choices for youth in particular, advocates often fail to warn of the negative social and health consequences of their use.  We are now seeing an increase on STIs (where New Zealand already has a shockingly high rate of incidence anyway) and a decrease in births.  It is impossible to know just how many early abortions have taken place through the use of Jadelle, Mirena and the Copper IUD.

A healthy society is one that imposes limits on its members for their own good.  Rather than giving young people a license to be sexually active without apparently having any consequences to their actions, only serves to encourage risk taking and deviant behaviour which ultimately leads to disaster.  Young people need to be given boundaries, strong ideals to live up to and forgiveness and support if they fall short.  Doing so will produce adults that in general are responsible, mature and thoughtful contributors to society, who accept the consequences of their actions and who have learnt that instant gratification does not lead to a happier life.

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