Inaccessibility of contraceptive measures and lack of awareness about family planning among underprivileged sections across the country are one of the major reasons for the exponential rise in the population as well as a surge in sexually transmitted diseases.
With an aim to tackle this concern, the Tamil Nadu Health and Family Welfare Department has flagged off an initiative on Thursday, under which all government hospitals and medical colleges in the state will offer free injectable contraceptives for women.
Titled ‘Antara’, the contraceptive, DMPA (Depot Medroxy Progesterone Acetate) contains synthetic progesterone and is deemed fit for consumption for women between the ages of 18 and 45.
The contraceptive also allows women to conceive seven to 10 months after stopping the medication.
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“Antara would increase the available choices of contraceptives and help with the spacing of children, thereby improving maternal and infant mortality rates. It is an intramuscular injection and needs to be taken every three months,” Health Minister C. Vijaya Baskar told The Hindu.
Costing ₹234 per vial, the shots will be administered only by a trained doctor or nurse and is effective for three months.
Reportedly, a total of 460 doctors and 1,000 staff across all districts in the state have been trained and the women will be provided with follow-up cards as reminders.
One of the doctors mentioned that the contraceptive is safe for women even during breastfeeding, improves anaemic conditions and also provides immunity against some forms of cancer.
“While intrauterine devices like Copper-T were completely safe, some women were scared of using them and preferred injections,” another doctor said.
In a reference manual issued by the family planning division, Ministry of Health and Family welfare, DMPA has been recognised as a safe and highly effective contraceptive method.
However, one needs to be cautious as certain changes in the menstrual cycle like irregular/prolonged bleeding and amenorrhea have been observed. Other effects may include a change in weight, mood swings, headache and decrease in bone mass.