Sex survey makes case to subsidize birth control

Canadian Sexual Health Survey looks at women's plans for pregnancy and access to birth control.

A new sex survey aims to make the case for subsidized birth control.

Researchers have teamed up with the B.C. Women’s Hospital and Health Centre on the Canadian Sexual Health Survey, considered the first study of its kind to look at how women in B.C. plan for pregnancy, the use of contraceptives and barriers to birth control.

Surveyors will be in Nanaimo this month.

According to Dr. Wendy Norman, principal investigator for the study, health professionals, advocates and government have met to talk about the difficulties some families have in timing and spacing their pregnancies but needed more information about the challenges women face. Unwanted pregnancies not only cost the health care system, but “we know that children are healthier when their parents have been able to decide when they want to have them,” said Norman, who hopes the study will lead to health care policy that better supports women, including making contraception affordable.”

“Once we are able to get this information from women it will support and provide evidence for government to make sensible polices to help women, such as potentially being able to subsidize contraception,” she said.

Dr. Perry Kendall, provincial health officer, called it a “baseline survey” and part of a long-term, interventional study that will give hard, empirical data on cost-savings for providing subsidized contraception. It will help policy makers and also allow subsequent work to measure changes around knowledge, attitudes and behavior, he said.

Healthcare professionals started conducting surveys in Nanaimo with invited, eligible women and girls, aged 14 to 49, on Feb. 25. They are looking to do 100 surveys in the city.

Those chosen will receive a letter before surveyors come to the door. Participation is voluntary, but those selected and who choose to take part will get a $20 honorarium. Information collected is confidential.