LARC use doubles in 15 years

Women attending community sexual health clinics now use almost twice as many long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) as 15 years ago, official figures show.

IUD contraceptive being held by a woman (Photo: SPL)

Prescriptions of LARCs through NHS community contraceptive clinics rose from 700,000 in 1997/8 to 1.3m in 2011/12, according to data from the NHS Information Centre. Use of other forms of contraception has remained stable over this time.

LARCs now account for 28% of primary contraceptive methods prescribed by these clinics. The data also showed 41% of 15-year-old girls chose the oral contraceptive pill compared with 36% who chose male condoms - the first time use of the pill has exceeded condoms in this age group.

A total of 1.4m people attended the clinics in 2011/12, a rise of 7% on the previous year. Women in the 16-19 age group were the most frequent attenders, with 23% of women of these ages visiting a clinic.

HSCIC chief executive Tim Straughan said the report captured 'the changing way' in which women are managing their reproductive health.

Around 12% of all women aged under 50 use LARCs, but progress on widespread adoption has been slow, with experts blaming a lack of training for GPs. A deal between the RCGP and the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health in October should see more GPs accredited to fit the devices.

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