Family planning means that people are able to control and determine how many children they have and how spaced out their births are. Access to family planning is essential in securing the autonomy and well-being of women while supporting their health.
Preventing pregnancy in Wales
A woman has the ability to choose if she wants to become pregnant. Getting pregnant has a direct impact on a woman’s health. Family planning prevents unplanned pregnancies to women of any age. By reducing the number of unplanned pregnancies, family planning also reduces the number of women facing abortions.
Where to get contraception in Wales
You can approach your GP or attend a family planning clinic. There are clinics dedicated to sexual health or genito-urinary medicine (GUM) and these offer a variety of contraception, even emergency contraception like the morning-after pill. Some pharmacies also supply emergency contraception. Condoms are on sale in chemists, supermarkets, garages, local shops and often in vending machines.
What types of contraception are there?
- IUD/IUS – these are often referred to as ‘the coil’. The IUD stands for Intrauterine Device and it works by preventing sperm from getting to the egg. They often remain in place for 5 to 10 years. The IUS stands for Intrauterine System and it contains the progesterone hormone. An IUS lasts for 5 years.
- The contraceptive implant – this is a little rod placed just underneath the skin in the woman’s upper arm. It releases progesterone and works for 3 years.
- The contraceptive injection – this contains progesterone. There are two different contraceptive injections. Depo-Provera works for 12 weeks and Notisterat works for eight weeks.
- The combined pill – this contains both progesterone and oestrogen. This pill prevents ovulation, makes it harder for sperm to reach the egg and alters the lining of the womb to be inhospitable to a fertilised egg.
- The progesterone-only pill – this is less reliable and works by thickening the mucus in the cervix, which makes it difficult for sperm to get through. With this pill, you will still ovulate.
- The contraceptive patch – this is a small patch that releases oestrogen and progesterone through the skin.
- Barrier methods – this includes diaphragms, cervical caps and condoms. These work because they prevent sperm from reaching the egg.
Sexual Health Services in Wales
From the end of 2004, sexual health services in Wales have been integrated. This means that nurses provide the care for patients that are asymptomatic (around 60% of people). With this system, there is more time for preventative health checks and infections are treated more promptly.
Sexual Health in different areas of Wales
- Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board – Integrated Sexual and Women’s Health Services.
They provide friendly, confidential and free services by specially trained staff. You can get advice and support for the following:
STI testing/advice/treatment, HIV screening/advice/treatment, safer sex advice, contraception information/provision, emergency contraception, pregnancy testing, pregnancy advice/abortion services, sexual assault, psychosexual counselling, vaccinations for Hepatitis B.
- Cardiff and Vale University Health Board – Integrated Sexual Health Service
They provide clinics at CRI (Cardiff Royal Infirmary) and other locations in the area.
- Betsi Cadwaladr University Local Health Board
They run sexual health clinics that offer STI testing (even if you’re symptom-free), HIV testing, contraceptives, emergency contraception, pregnancy testing, vaccinations and screening for Hepatitis B. They can also support victims of sexual assault in the Amethyst Centre or the SARC – the North Wales Sexual Assault Referral Centre.
For other areas, you can find sexual health clinics using this website: https://www.nhsdirect.wales.nhs.uk/LocalServices/?s=SexualHealth
In Wales, there are lots of support services open to women considering abortion. You can find out information here: http://www.nhsdirect.wales.nhs.uk/encyclopaedia/a/article/abortion/
In Wales, abortion services are provided by clinics run by Local Health Boards. There is a range of services available and these depend on how far along the pregnancy is. Health Boards do differ so it is important to check your local health board.
Here is some information about different health boards and their abortion services offered:
- ABM UHB – Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board.
Telephone line for abortion services is 01792 200303. This is available Monday through to Thursday from 8 am to 3 pm. On Fridays, it is available from 8 am to 12 pm only. They also run a helpline (telephone number – 0300 555 0279).
- AB UHB – Aneurin Bevan University Health Board.
They have the BETH Clinic. This is a service for unplanned pregnancies. You can call 01633 431743 on weekdays between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm.
- BC UGB – Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board
They run a helpline – telephone number 01475 443301
- CT UHB – Cwm Taf University Health Board.
Their telephone number for termination services is 01685 728721.
- HD UHB – Hywel Dda University Health Board
They run Pond Street Sexual Health Clinic – telephone number 01267 248674. You can call on weekdays between 9:15 am and 4:30 pm
- PTHB – Powys Teaching Health Board.
To access services here, you need to be referred by your GP.