Increased mistrust leads to declining use of contraceptive pill in the Czech Republic

Use of the pill has declined dramatically since the start of the century amid greater fears over possible side effects.

Expats.cz

Written by Expats.cz
Published on 30.08.2021 15:15 (updated on 31.08.2021)

Data from the State Institute for Drug Control (SÚKL) has shown a dramatic decrease in the number of Czech women taking the contraceptive pill. While at the start of the 21st century around half of all young Czech women took the pill, SÚKL data now show that only 24 percent currently use this method of contraception.

The decline may be largely due to greater fears about potential side effects, which gynecologists ascribe to negative perceptions of hormone-based treatments.

“In general, there is a worldwide campaign against the use of hormones in any form. As innovative as hormones used to be, they now mean something evil for certain parts of the population,” Vladimír Dvořák, head of the Czech Gynecological and Obstetrical Society of the Czech Medical Association of J. E. Purkyně, told Lidovky.cz.

Other factors put forward as responsible for the declining use of the pill are increased interest in non-couple sexual activity, and, since the advent of the pandemic, reduced sexual contact between young people who are not in a stable long-term relationship.

In 2007, sales of the contraceptive pill in the Czech Republic peaked at 3.5 million packs. Last year, only 1.8 million packs were sold, and an even lower number is expected this year, with only around 1.1 million sold by the end of the July. With only around a quarter of young women between 18 and 34 using the pill, the results suggest a significant decrease in a matter of only two years: a United Nations report from 2019 showed 34.4 percent of Czech women using the pill.

Common fears about side effects of the pill include issues with blood flow such as thrombosis or embolism. Indeed, a number of recent reports have suggested that the risk of blood clots is far greater with the contraceptive pill than it is with the AstraZeneca vaccine against Covid.

But doctors note that the benefits of the contraceptive pill far outweigh any risks, and that the health risks of pregnancy in developed countries are still far greater than the risks of the pill. The contraceptive pill meanwhile significantly reduces the risk of some cancers, especially uterine and ovarian cancer.

Doctors fear that declining use of the pill could meanwhile lead to a greater prevalence of abortion as a way of tackling unwanted pregnancy. No such increase has yet been seen, though, suggesting Czechs are finding other ways to avoid conception.

The UN report suggests the pill is the third most popular method of contraception in the world after the male condom and female sterilization. Permanent and long-acting modes of contraception such as sterilization tend to be more widely used in Asia and South America, while short-acting methods such as the pill and condom are more common in Europe. Yet the latest data from the Czech Republic shows preferences continuing to change in line with new health preoccupations.

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