September 26 is World Contraception Day. PSI joins Bayer, USAID and other partners in a coalition centered on the vision of a world where every pregnancy is wanted. Coalition partners developed “Global Perspectives on Unplanned Pregnancies: A Framework for Action from the World Contraception Day (WCD) Coalition“, featuring Ingrid’s story below:
Ingrid Idalia Montes Alvarado had tried just about every family planning method she knew about and could get hold of. She and her husband used condoms, and Ingrid tried different forms of hormonal short-term contraceptives but experienced side effects each time. And each time she got pregnant.
“Each child is beautiful. They are all so beautiful,” says Ingrid. “But when one gets sick, sometimes you don’t have what you need to take care of them. Sometimes there’s not even enough bread or water to give them.”
Ingrid and her husband are far from alone. An estimated 33 million unintended pregnancies each year are a result of contraceptive failure or incorrect use.
After their sixth child was born, Ingrid and her husband decided they couldn’t afford to have any more children; she didn’t work and her husband was a day laborer. But they were confronted with a lack of access to information and effective contraception. That’s when Ingrid got pregnant with her seventh child.
In Guatemala, 20.8 percent of married women who want to use contraception are unable to access it. Worldwide, 222 million women have an unmet need for modern contraception. If this unmet need were met, 53 million additional unplanned pregnancies could be prevented every year.
One day Ingrid saw a flyer for a health clinic day about family planning methods organized by the Pan-American Social Marketing Organization (PASMO), PSI’s network member in Central America. She went along to learn about her options, especially long acting reversible contraception (LARC). She had heard about the intrauterine device (IUD), but had many misconceptions about it – one in particular claimed that babies would be born with the IUD in their forehead.
PASMO counselors informed Ingrid about all of her options, including short-term methods and LARC, and addressed the myths. Thanks to PASMO and other local organizations, starting in the 1990s there were significant gains in access to reproductive health and family planning. But that progress largely came to a standstill in 2000 that continues to stagnate today.
The implications of that go much further than just families like Ingrid’s. If the unmet need for family planning were met, it would save more lives and cost $1.5 billion less for maternal and newborn services later. That’s $1.5 billion that could go toward nutrition, toward early childhood development, and other national priorities for each country. The World Contraception Day Coalition, sponsored by Bayer, shared a “Framework for Action” including several case studies to support countries in developing national plans for increasing access to contraception and family planning services.
Ingrid chose to get an IUD inserted. Since then, she hasn’t got pregnant and hasn’t had any side effects. Now, three of her children are married. Ingrid educates all of them about using contraception and is proud that one of her daughters now uses the IUD and her daughter-in-law uses a contraceptive implant.
“I told my daughter to have two children,” says Ingrid. “Have two until they’re 10 or a certain age, and then you can decide if you’re going to have more.”
Photo: Ingrid Idalia Montes Alvarado (right) with her daughter (left) and grandchild (middle). (Credit: Rita Villanueva)