Cost and travel preventing some Kiwis from accessing contraceptive - study

An IUD currently costs an average of $115 for insertion, on top of GP visits.
An IUD currently costs an average of $115 for insertion, on top of GP visits. Photo credit: Getty

A new study says financial and travel barriers are preventing some Kiwi women from accessing contraceptive options.

University of Otago researchers investigated access to intrauterine contraceptives, also known as IUDs, in the Southern District Health Board (SDHB) catchment area.

They surveyed 88 health providers in Southland and published their findings in the NZ Medical Journal on Friday.

The study found while the majority of people lived within 5km of a clinic which offered the devices, travel time could stop some people from using IUDs.

Researcher Robina Stevens said it's especially hard for those in rural areas.

"A barrier is just accessing the service, finding a provider who can do the insertion, travelling to the clinic. I just don't think it should be that hard."

Cost is also a hindering factor as the contraceptive currently costs an average of $115 for insertion in the SDHD, and can be as much as $270.

In addition to this 90 percent of people who do receive one, require two or three doctors appointments bringing the cost up further.

This is despite the World Health Organization's guidelines saying that with appropriate safety netting, the devices can be safely implemented in only one visit.

Stevens said despite government funding, the cost is too high for some Kiwi women. She said the Government needs to fund the IUD insertion process.

"Then more people would become aware of it, because at the moment in New Zealand I think many people aren't even aware that it's an option," she said.

She said that on top of this, not all of the 88 clinics can complete the whole process.

"It's more disappointing I guess, of all the potential primary providers who could provide this service of contraceptive insertion only about two-thirds provided some insertion."