Free contraception for young women: “What is important is that women have a choice”

The Minister of Health Olivier Véran announced, Thursday, September 9, free contraceptives for women up to the age of 25 – so far, Medicare reimbursed up to 18 years certain pills, implants , IUDs and diaphragms. The finding of“A decline in contraception in a certain number of young women for financial reasons” motivated the decision. The measure will enter into force on 1er January 2022.

A request that Family Planning had already formulated a long time ago. For Caroline Rebhi, co-chair of the latter, it is ” a good start “, corn “Real groundwork” remains to be done.

The Minister of Health spoke of a decline in contraception among a number of young women. What observation do you make concerning the new generations in family planning?

It’s a reality. Already, contraception can have a significant cost. However, until now, you had free and anonymity up to 18 years, then overnight the contraception that you took was no longer reimbursed or covered anonymously. This is why some people do not take contraception. The figures also show that others are falling back on the condom.

Read our article from 2017: Why women drop the pill

We also see what are called “pill crises”. There is a real fear of hormones that motivates the urge to switch back to something more natural. Some women turn to the diaphragm, a hormone-free method, or the copper IUD.

What is important for Planning is that women have the choice of contraceptive methods, whether they are minors or young adults. When we have a choice, we take better contraception. We still see a lot today in France a very “French” contraceptive scheme: pill, condom then, a little later, intrauterine device.

Moreover, the precariousness of women is increasing. In 2019, the women who came to see us were around 25-34 years old, in addition to the 18-25 year-olds who are our usual target. This means that there are also older women today who need cheaper contraceptive methods. But it is not only the price of the means of contraception that we point out, it is also the price of the consultations. Women do not have to pay between 50 euros and 80 euros for a consultation with the gynecologist.

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Do you think that cost is the main reason for not using contraception?

Cost is an important reason, but there is also the issue of access. Medical deserts are a reality, this is one of the complaints we hear most often. You sometimes have to travel several kilometers to reach a center or a doctor who can deliver these contraceptions free of charge and anonymously. There is no family planning or planning center everywhere. We recommend that the departments put in place planning policies on these subjects.

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It would also be necessary that a large part of the professionals be able to deliver contraception, always with the possibility of free and anonymity. For example, school nurses, who, for the moment, can only renew contraception and not prescribe it as first-line. In other countries, such as England, a large number of nurses distribute, install and prescribe contraception.

Pharmacists can also renew, but if they could perform a first consultation, knowing that there are a lot of pharmacies in the territory, that would be beneficial.

Do you think there was a “containment effect”?

There was an effect during the first confinement, we really saw it. However, we carried out a communication campaign on the subject, but women did not know, for example, that abortion is an urgent care and that they had the right to go out to benefit from it.

We also realized that there was a strong guilt of women. They said to each other “I will not go out for my abortion request because the doctors may have other priorities ” Where “I will renew my pill later because it is not urgent”. It was really necessary to communicate on the fact that contraceptive follow-up was part of urgent care.

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Women were also unaware that they were entitled to a renewal of their pill packs, patches or rings through an old prescription. It is however enshrined in the law today in force.

This is why information about this new measure is very important, especially among young women, but also professionals, who will apply it. Today, free access and anonymity are possible, and not only in planning centers or in Family Planning. You can, if you are a minor, have access to contraception anonymously in town through a general practitioner. Few young girls know this. They often come to see us saying that they are afraid that the general practitioner will tell their families about it.

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This announcement is a good start, but there is real groundwork to be done. Some professionals simply do not know how to conduct a contraceptive interview or insert an intrauterine device. There is a lack of continuing education.

This measure should also cover emergency contraception, which costs 7 euros to 25 euros in pharmacies. You can have it without a prescription when you are of age, but it is a barrier to additional access.

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