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Women prefer primary care for contraceptive services

Sexual health

Sexual health

Nearly two-thirds of women use contraceptive services provided by their practice, according to a Natsal survey.

Natsal is probably the most comprehensive survey of sexual health carried out on the adult British public using a sample that best represents the population (a "probability sample").

This large cross-sectional survey sampled 3,369 men and 4,375 women, aged 16-44 years. Outcome measures included use of contraceptive services provided by general practice, community contraceptive clinics, retail services and non-use of services.

A total of 59% of women reported using general practice as a source of contraceptive supplies while 43% of men were most likely to use retail services. In all, 16% of women and 7% of men used more than one type of service. However, about 21% of women and 45% of men reported no service use in the past year. Community contraceptive services appear to be accessed by young people and those with multiple partners, i.e. those with higher risks.

General practice is often quoted as a popular source for contraception. The Natsal survey gives further evidence that general practice is a key provider of contraception in Britain. The public should expect a level of care that is evidence-based and of a reasonable standard. This is another message for the GP contract negotiators when they have their next round of discussions about QOF markers.

French RS, Mercer CH, Johnson AM et al. Use of contraceptive services in Britain: findings from the second National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal-2) J Fam Planning and Repro Health Care 2009: 35(1); 9-14

Dr Richard Ma

Dr Richard Ma,
GP principal, North London and staff grade in sexual and reproductive health, Maragret Pyke Centre, London

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