Contraceptive Implants, the ‘Ideal Product’ To Prevent Teenage Pregnancies in Cuba

Cuba is facing an upsurge in sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies due to the shortage of contraceptives. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 22 May 2023 — In the midst of a shortage of condoms and an upsurge in sexually transmitted diseases, the Health authorities in Santiago de Cuba announced a campaign for adolescents to get contraceptive implants.

As published this Sunday by the provincial newspaper Sierra Maestra, the suggestion seeks to “benefit sexually active girls” with an “ideal product” to reduce the incidence of early pregnancy. The head of the Family Planning Program of Santiago de Cuba, Estrella Soler Alonso, explained that the implant is “very safe and effective,” unlike other contraceptive methods, such as the pill, which require a frequency to be effective.

Both this “subdermal hormonal” implant (under the skin) and the intrauterine device (IUD) are methods widely used in Latin America to prevent pregnancy and are affordable for most low-income women; however, they do not protect from sexually transmitted diseases. Among their benefits are that they are long-lasting and do not generate hormonal changes like the pills.

Soler Alonso explained that the implant contains a hormone derived from progesterone, effective in preventing ovulation, that makes the cervical mucus thicker, thereby preventing sperm from entering the uterus for fertilization. This device, the size of a match, has a useful life inside a woman’s body for five years, she added.

The official note does not explain where the devices come from, but since they are not national technology, it is likely that they are imported or are part of a donation.

Medical personnel of the Maternal and Child Care Program of the province will visit schools and communities to “dialogue” about the “good qualities of the contraceptive method” and, subsequently, with the consent of the adolescents and their legal guardians, place the implant.

The specialist pointed out that they will identify adolescents who are part of a reproductive risk group, due to the insufficient maturity of their reproductive systems. They will have complications during pregnancy or childbirth, in addition to the “unfavorable psychological and social consequences that pregnancy can bring at this stage.”

Women in vulnerable situations who for health reasons cannot use another contraceptive will also be included in the campaigns, the specialist added. In addition to the campuses in the communities, adolescents can receive the implant in the Armando García, Ramón López Peña and Josué País García polyclinics.

The doctor said that 150 mg medroxyprogesterone, an injectable drug that prevents pregnancies for three months, is available in the offices, but only with a prescription issued by the Family Planning unit. However, Aminor, a synthetic oral progestin contraceptive for patients who have estrogen intolerance, is sold without a prescription in pharmacies.

Cuba has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in Latin America and the Caribbean, with a fertility rate of 51.10 per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 19, according to 2018 data from the World Health Organization. Last January, the Government recognized the failure of its programs to contain this public health problem, due to the lack of contraceptive methods and sex education.

Translated by Regina Anavy 


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