Have you followed the news on Venezuela in the past several months? We have. Because as it turns out, an economic crisis has huge repercussions for women’s reproductive health.
Here’s the back story.
Venezuela used to be rich. They have the world’s largest supply of crude oil, which for a long time was like having a bank account that constantly regenerated.
But oil prices dropped in the past few years, and the Venezuelan government is strapped for cash. This has triggered a crisis and a shortage for the basics - food, electricity, medical care, and birth control.
Venezuela is a socialist country, so the once-wealthy government provided free healthcare and free contraception.
Now that the government is broke, though, it’s cut back on what it offers its citizens, and that includes contraception.
For women who are trying to avoid pregnancy, this is a problem. Condoms and birth control pills have disappeared from legitimate drug stores and pharmacies.
People have to resort to the black market where buying a pack of condoms costs $200 - several days of minimum wage pay, while the pill costs roughly a third of a month’s pay for minimum wage employees.
Other women with more mobility can travel out of the country to buy contraception, and when they do, they try to bring back plenty for their friends.
Venezuelan doctors are reporting a spike in unplanned pregnancies and STDs.
What does this mean for Venezuelan women?
For women with no or little access to extra cash, they have to go without birth control. Many women are already struggling to feed the children that they do have.
In some cases, when these home remedies don’t work, these women seek out dangerous abortions from providers with dubious medical backgrounds or they attempt scary in-home abortions.
What we’re doing to help
Cycle Technologies just released CycleBeads in Spanish for Android phones. We’ve seen this app do wonders in many parts of the world, especially in low resource countries in Africa and South Asia, and we’re excited to bring it to our Spanish speaking friends around the globe, and in Venezuela in particular.
Our app helps women track their periods and uses a proven effective fertility awareness-based family planning method called the Standard Days Method to identify fertile days for women with regular cycles between 26-32 days long.* It’s completely free and can be downloaded on any smartphone.
While we’re not saying that the CycleBeads app will fix the Venezuelan crisis by any means, we believe that when women have the freedom to plan when and with whom they want to get pregnant, they use that freedom to invest in their communities.
Who’s with us in thinking even in an economic crisis women should have access to birth control? Tell us on Instagram!
* CycleBeads has been proven effective in large-scale efficacy studies. A majority of women have cycles between 26-32 days long, but not all. The CycleBeads app will help users monitor if their cycles are in this range. For users with cycles outside this range, we have developed a new app called Dot. Dot is currently undergoing a full-scale efficacy trial and is available in English only. A Spanish version of Dot will be available later this year.
Cycle Technologies is a socially minded consumer product company based in Washington, D.C. The company creates Brilliantly Simple™ solutions to address global health needs with particular focus on reproductive health technologies. Since 2002 the company has worked with researchers, healthcare partners, and technologists to identify, develop, and make available leading edge ideas that fit its mission. To see more about the company’s initiatives, visit http://www.CycleTechnologies.com. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.