The number of women using hormonal contraception is increasing every year as new methods are introduced to the market and there is more awareness about the advantages of family planning, health experts said Wednesday.
According to data from the Reproductive Health Association of Cambodia (RHAC), which runs several clinics across the country and claims to have prevented almost 370,000 unplanned pregnancies nationwide, the number of women they prescribed with the monthly contraceptive pill increased from 10,084 in 2011 to 11,999 in 2012.
For 2013, the number is expected to rise to close to 14,000, based on figures for the first six months of the year, said Dr. Ping Chutema, clinical director for RHAC.
As well as the pill, RHAC has also seen an increase in the number of women asking for a contraceptive implant, a small tube inserted under the skin that slowly releases the hormone progestogen and prevents pregnancy. This method is more failsafe than the pill, as women can forget to take the pill or take it wrongly.
In the first six months of 2013, 825 implants were given to women compared to 619 during the same period the previous year. Implants typically cost between $20 and $150 depending on their durability and can last for up to five years.
“About 20 percent of [our patients] now use implants,” Dr. Chutema said. “In general, people are more aware of contraception and we have a larger variety of contraception, so that also makes the number [of users] increase. And for the pill, it’s available everywhere.”
Chan Theary, executive director of the local NGO Reproductive and Child Health Alliance, said that between 2011 and 2012, the number of adult women in rural areas aware of longterm family planning increased from 52 percent to almost 70 percent, giving them the chance to decide when and how many children they want.
Still, Dr. Marc Derveeuw, country director for the U.N.’s Population Fund, said there was a long way to go before contraception was made easily available to women living in rural areas.
“There’s still a large group of women who…are afraid of side effects, like when we see that people are scared that their skin gets darker if they use contraception [like implants],” Dr. Derveeuw said, referring to a belief that women who stop menstruating while using contraception will get darker skin due to the blood they fail to lose during their monthly cycle.