World Contraception Day 2017: Realizing a Healthy Future for all Women

As we mark World Contraception Day (WCD), let us imagine a world where women can choose from a range of discreet products they can use to protect their sexual and reproductive health, where every woman has the opportunity to stay healthy and thrive, and their families and communities prosper as a result.
Unfortunately, today’s reality is starkly different for many women. In developing countries, a lack of access to contraception is a major contributor to maternal and newborn deaths, mainly due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth. Largely because an estimated 214 million women in those regions have no way to get the modern contraceptive methods they need and want, more than four in 10 pregnancies there are unplanned.
Many of those same women face alarmingly high rates of HIV—also due to a lack of practical prevention methods—compounding the risks to their sexual and reproductive health. In fact, HIV remains a leading cause of death and disability among pregnant women and mothers. The consequences for children are enormous: In sub-Saharan Africa, children are up to four times more likely to die in the year before or after their mothers die.
But recent research and development has led to some promising news on the horizon.
A variety of researchers are working on products that would simultaneously protect women from sexually transmitted infections like HIV as well as unintended pregnancy. Called multipurpose prevention products, these methods would offer a new way to address overlapping sexual and reproductive health needs, and help tackle two of the greatest threats to women’s health and development—HIV and unintended pregnancy.
For our part, earlier this year, IPM partnered with the Microbicide Trials Network to launch the first clinical trial of a three-month vaginal ring IPM designed to prevent both HIV and unintended pregnancy. Our multipurpose ring is based on the same technology we used to develop a monthly HIV prevention ring recently shown to safely reduce women’s HIV risk.

Although such multipurpose innovations are still years away, with continued investment, we have every reason to think that prevention solutions like these will save women’s live around the world, and give them and their families a chance at healthy and productive futures.
This year’s World Contraception day motto, “It’s Your Life, It’s Your Future,” speaks to the need to put women’s health firmly in their control, which inspires our work at IPM and that of so many of our partners. Today, we salute all the individuals and organizations working to improve women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights.
From all of us at IPM, we wish you a happy and healthy World Contraception Day!