Increased access to contraception can make a positive and lasting difference to women, families and communities around the world.
We believe that every woman has the right to choose if and when she has a child, and the right to enjoy a healthy sex life without fear of the consequences. But for many, the reality is very different.
Today, there are 214 million women who don’t have access to contraception. That’s 214 million women who are unable to exercise their right to protect themselves from getting pregnant.
For some women, lack of access to contraception is a matter of life or death. Tragically, 285,000 women die each year from pregnancy-related causes. And even if women are able to avoid childbirth complications, the impact of having several pregnancies in quick succession can lock them into a life of ill health and extreme poverty.
At Marie Stopes International, we see the impact contraception has on the lives of our clients every day. We see how women and girls who can control their own fertility are more likely to be able to complete their education.
We see how families with the ability to choose whether and when to have children are less likely to fall into – or remain – trapped in poverty. We see how children of families who have planned and controlled their fertility are more like to be healthy, fed and schooled.
We see how being able to prevent a pregnancy can give a woman the freedom to realise her ambitions and control her future. And we see that the social and economic benefits go far beyond the individual and transform whole communities and societies.
We’re working tirelessly to expand access to services and to offer the widest range of methods in every country we operate in.
We will do whatever it takes to deliver contraception to women who need it.
Whether that means travelling vast distances to take our services to the most remote areas of the globe or working through periods of political instability.
Our teams are motivated every day by our commitment to help women have ‘children by choice, not chance’.
We want to make it as easy and straightforward as possible for women to get hold of contraception. So we offer our services in several different ways – via our centres, out in the community and through our franchised outlets.
Alongside this, we offer the widest range of contraceptive methods we can, so that each woman can choose the type of contraception that best suits her particular situation and her plans for the future.
Our teams take the time that’s needed to talk through all the options with each client, providing just the right balance of medical facts and emotional support. So that women feel informed and reassured about whatever contraceptive choice they make.
In some of the countries we work in, we have pioneered the introduction of new methods of contraception. In Australia, for example, we helped to make a more effective five day emergency contraceptive pill available to all women. In Burkina Faso, we gave women access to Sayana Press, the three month injectable contraceptive.
Many of our clients like the flexibility of using a short-term method of contraception, particularly if they are unsure about when they might want to have children in the future.
Using a short-term method means they can stop using it whenever they are ready to start a family or decide they want to have more children. We offer two types of contraception within this category – short-term barrier methods and short-term hormonal methods.
The short-term barrier contraceptives we offer are the female and male condom.
The short term hormonal methods we offer are the combined oral contraceptive, the progestin-only pill, Depo injectable, and emergency contraceptives.
Long-acting reversible methods of contraception are methods that offer protection against pregnancy for a number of years.
Despite their long-term nature, they are also suitable for women who wish to delay pregnancy for one to two years.
Many women prefer the convenience of these methods rather than needing to remember to take a pill every day, or having to get an injection every month. The vast majority of our clients choose long-acting or permanent methods of contraception and in many of the countries where we work, Marie Stopes International is the only provider of these methods.
We can offer clients three long-acting reversible methods including a copper IUD, an LNG IUS, or a contraceptive implant.
The copper intrauterine device (IUD) is a small copper-coated device that is inserted into a woman’s uterus through her vagina and cervix by a specially trained healthcare provider. Once in place, it can prevent pregnancy for 10 to 12 years.
The levonorgestrel intrauterine system (LNG-IUS) is a small plastic device that is inserted through the vagina and cervix by a specially trained healthcare provider. By steadily releasing small amounts of the hormone levonorgestrel every day, it prevents the womb lining from thickening enough to enable an egg to implant and grow. Once in place it prevents pregnancy for five years.
The implant is a small plastic rod or capsule, about the size of a matchstick, that releases the hormone progestin. A specially trained provider performs a minor surgical procedure to place the implant under the skin on the inside of a woman’s arm. The implant keeps a woman’s progestin levels artificially stable and prevents the body from preparing itself for pregnancy. Once in place, it prevents pregnancy for three to five years.
We offer two permanent methods of contraception – tubal ligation for women and vasectomy for men.
Both are minor surgical procedures, suitable for women and men who are certain that they don’t want to have any more children, or for people who wish to remain childless.
The vast majority of our clients choose permanent or long-acting methods of contraception and in many of the countries where we work, Marie Stopes International is the only provider of these methods.
If a woman has had unprotected sex and wants to protect herself against pregnancy, we can offer emergency contraception.
We offer two types of emergency contraception – the emergency contraceptive pill and the copper intrauterine device.
The emergency contraceptive pill – also known as the morning-after pill – can help to prevent pregnancy when taken up to five days after unprotected sex.
The copper IUD can be inserted up to five days after unprotected sex. Once inserted, it will continue working for as long as the woman wishes to keep it in place, from a few weeks up to 10 years.
By listening to, and meeting, the needs of individual women we have increased our health impact year on year.
In the countries where we work, one in every 20 women using contraception now receives her method from us. And we are saving and transforming record numbers of women’s lives.
Our global impact in 2017 was our greatest yet; we prevented more than 23,900 maternal deaths, more than 8.2 million unintended pregnancies and 5.4 million unsafe abortions.Read more about our impact 2017
women and men using MSI contraception
in direct healthcare costs averted
maternal deaths averted
unintended pregnancies averted
unsafe abortions averted
Despite the progress we have made and continue to make every year, there is still a huge unmet need for contraception worldwide. And this is likely to rise due to the re-introduction of the Mexico City Policy - a Republican policy that blocks US Government funding to non-US organisations that perform abortion with their own funding.
This will negatively impact not just women’s health and their opportunities for the future, but the longer-term economic prospects and stability of the world’s poorest countries. As a globally respected provider, we have an important role to play in addressing this and other policies that restrict women's access to reproductive healthcare. We are working closely with governments and donors to shape policy, deliver practical solutions, and explore the best ways to fund and deliver the services that are so needed.
And we are constantly innovating to expand our impact, and to make sure our contraception services will continue to save and change lives for as long as they are needed.