Have you ever sat down and thought about what happens when women don’t have access to contraception?
It’s something we do every day.
Globally, 214 million women have unmet contraceptive needs. This means that they are at risk for pregnancy, but are not using effective contraception consistently.
And each year, approximately 85 million women will have an unintended pregnancy. With 65 million of these pregnancies occurring in the developing world, and nearly three million of them occurring in the United States.
In the US, 95% of unplanned pregnancies occur to women not using contraception consistently.
Why aren’t they using contraception consistently? A variety of reasons, but side effects and health concerns are the biggest.
The high cost of unmet contraceptive needs
When women have an unplanned pregnancy, there are a number of consequences...
They are more likely to experience mental and physical health issues, more likely to be physically abused and endure unstable relationships.
They are more likely to live below the poverty level, to not be able to pursue higher education, and to have fewer job opportunities open to them.
And their children? They are more likely to be born premature, and their moms don’t always get the prenatal care they need as soon as they need it. And like their moms, these children are more likely to experience mental and physical health issues, poverty, lack of education and fewer job opportunities.
Women who have unplanned pregnancies, and their children aren’t the only ones who suffer. There’s also a cost to the community at large. According to the Brookings Institute, in the U.S. the government spends about $12 Billion dollars a year on the medical expenses related to an unplanned pregnancy. We could cut this in half if we eliminated unintended pregnancies.
And this doesn’t begin to look at the costs associated with the ongoing challenges. When a woman and her child can’t get a good job because they lack the education needed, have poor health, and are dealing with adversity and poverty, there’s an even bigger economic cost across their lifetimes that’s almost impossible to calculate.
What if all women had access to affordable and simple contraception that met their needs?
We already know the answer.
Unintended pregnancies would decrease; women would have more educational and career opportunities. Their future children would be less likely to grow up in poverty. And as a family, they can take better care of themselves and contribute more to the community.
If you want to make life better for a community, you should start by investing in its women and girls.” - Melinda Gates
That’s why we’re committed to building tools that help women track their fertility so they can more easily prevent or plan for pregnancy.
Our two apps, Dot and CycleBeads provide women with contraceptive options that can address many of the reasons that women aren’t using other methods consistently. They help users plan ahead and know when they really need to use a condom for pregnancy prevention, and they are natural so they don’t cause side-effects or other health concerns. But they do more than that.
They are an easy and free way for women in the developing world to take control of their reproductive health so they can choose when they start a family instead of someone else choosing for them.
No birth control option is a panacea, but we must continue to expand the contraceptive options available and listen to women’s needs in order to provide them with real solutions.
We believe that investing in women will give them the power to be a force for change.
“When we invest in women, we invest in the people who invest in everyone else.” - Melinda Gates
Want to learn more about Cycle Technologies’ global mission? Read more here!
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.