Eur J Contracept Reprod Health Care. 2017 Apr;22(2):102-106.

Family planning and Zika virus: need for renewed and cohesive efforts to ensure availability of intrauterine contraception in Latin America and the Caribbean

Ali M, Miller K and Gómez Ponce de Leon RF


Objective: The advantages of intrauterine contraception (IUC) are well established (highly effective, low discontinuation rate, easy to use, low cost, and suitable for immediate postpartum use), but low levels of use in many countries and declining use in others are causes for concern. Due to the ongoing Zika virus outbreak, public health officials are calling for the continued practice of safe sex and the delay of pregnancy. Our study was conducted to assess the current situation of IUC availability and provision in Latin America and to determine the role of national policies in meeting the contraceptive needs of the populations in these countries.

Methods: A survey was conducted in Latin America and the Caribbean between December 2015 and January 2016 to assess national policies with regard to IUC provision, availability and accessibility. 18 countries participated.

Results: All responding countries had national policies on IUC. Many in the public sector provided the intrauterine device (IUD) free of charge, but the levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system (LNG-IUS) was generally available in the private sector. Some countries had very restrictive policies on who was permitted to carry out IUC insertions, but most permitted a range of health professionals to do so. Immediate postpartum IUC insertion was uncommon. Some countries placed restrictions on IUC use in women who were nulliparous, young, at high risk of catching a sexually transmitted infection or who had multiple sexual partners.

Conclusion: IUC is underused in Latin America. The study reveals policy level barriers that may impede access to IUC, one of the most effective, long-acting, non-hormonal, reversible contraceptive methods. Governments should consider reviewing and rethinking their policies on contraception to ensure IUC service provision among populations at high risk of unplanned pregnancy, especially those vulnerable to Zika virus.

Comment: With the outbreak of Zika much attention is given to contraceptive policies and practices in Latin- and Middle America. Health care providers should convince the health authorities to provide hormone-loaded IUDs to the public sector and to allow nurses and midwives to insert them. (HMV)