Doctors at the Canadian Medical Association's annual general meeting voted today in support of a motion asking the federal government to pay for birth control.
About 70 per cent of the eligible voters supported the motion on Wednesday in Yellowknife.
Dr. Sarah Cook, a family doctor in Yellowknife who introduced the motion, said teen pregnancy in the Northwest Territories is almost three times higher than the national average.
She said birth control is not accessible enough for many women.
“There are many women that don’t have access to employer benefits and who are not covered by NIHB [non-insured health benefits for First Nations and Inuit] here who do not have treaty cards that would be able to access that, so I see that very frequently,” said Cook.
Even if it is accessible, it’s often costly. Some methods, such as a hormonal IUD (intrauterine device) can cost almost $500. Cook said she sees cost barriers to contraception every day.
Dr. Ewen Affleck, also of Yellowknife, supported Cook, arguing that unwanted pregnancies are more expensive than birth control.
“We know that half the women with unintended pregnancies seek abortion services. Those who continue their pregnancies seek prenatal care later, have higher rates of smoking during pregnancy, higher rates of pre-term delivery and low birth weight babies,” said Affleck.
The issue was hotly debated, as some doctors worried about the cost to the government.
“Specifically who’s going to pay for this?” asked Dr. Laurence Colman of Toronto. “Is this going to be a provincial or territorial or federal program that will be available to all patients? There's a cost that’s involved,” said Colman.
In the end, the motion passed.
The doctors expect it can be used to help lobby the government for birth control coverage.
Pills work best if they're taken at the same time each day -- which is often difficult for women to remember.<br> (Photo courtesy of <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/duck/" target="_hplink">Flickr/canardo</a>)
It's not as common as it once was, but antibiotics can occasionally affect the effectiveness of your birth control pill. Ask the doctor who prescribed the antibiotics about any potential interactions.<br> (Photo courtesy of <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/sheeppurple/" target="_hplink">Flickr/Sheep purple</a>)
Talking About It With Partner
While it can be difficult with a new partner, avoiding the subject of birth control won't make it go away, particularly if you've already started having sex. Get past sexual histories, concerns and preferred methods out in the open as soon as possible to make this work for everyone.
Buying The Wrong Condoms
Besides also being more comfortable for both partners, ensuring you have the right condom size can mean it's less slightly to break (if it's too tight) or slip off (if it's too small).<br> (Photo courtesy of <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/robertelyov/" target="_hplink">Flickr/robertelyov</a>)
Be Open To Change
The Pill isn't the be all and end all of birth control options - investigate alternatives if you're not all that into the Pill, or if it's giving you some adverse side effects. Options like the intrauterine device (IUD) shown here are quite common, and could even be more effective.<br> (Photo courtesy of <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/stickypearls/" target="_hplink">Flickr/+mara</a>)
Forgetting to take their Pill is more common than most women would like to admit, and it can certainly impact the risk of pregnancy. Missing one day is generally believed to be fine, but you should probably opt for back-up for a week after just in case.<br> (Photo courtesy of <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/shimrit/" target="_hplink">Flickr/Shemer</a>)
Adding On Protection
Similarly, the first week -- and more cautious people say even month -- of starting the Pill, use a condom, as the hormones won't yet be as effective as they could be. <br>(Photo courtesy of <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/jennyleesilver/" target="_hplink">Flickr/Jenny Lee Silver</a>)
Using The Wrong Tools
Oil-based lubricants shouldn't be used with condoms, as they can break down the latex and therefore increase the risk of pregnancy. Always opt for water-based lubricants.
You Take It Out Too Soon
For birth control methods like sponges and diaphragms that require removal, women can make the mistake of taking them out too soon -- each should be removed six hours after sex, but shouldn't be kept in any longer than 30 hours.<br> (Photo courtesy of <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/ideonexus/" target="_hplink">Flickr/Ryan Somma</a>)