Year in Review: More contraceptive options

New Zealanders now have more contraceptive options to choose from after we increased funded access to Mirena, and listed a new long-acting reversible contraceptive option, Jaydess.

These two intrauterine devices (IUDs) are a form of long-acting, reversible contraception that sits inside the uterus and releases hormones to prevent eggs being fertilised. Once inserted, they are highly effective at preventing pregnancy for several years (about five for Mirena, three for Jaydess) or until they are removed.

Both of these IUDs can also help people who suffer from heavy menstrual bleeding, endometriosis or endometrial hyperplasia.

“We heard from New Zealanders that this was something they wanted us to fund,” says PHARMAC acting medical director, practising obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Ken Clark.

This decision removes a barrier for people wanting to access Mirena and Jaydess. Without funding, patients could pay anywhere from $300 to $500 for Mirena or Jaydess. Now, New Zealanders only pay the insertion cost and a $5 co-payment for the device.

More than 28,000 people have accessed either Mirena or Jaydess since they became available in November 2019. More than 4,000 people had one of these IUDs inserted in the first month they were funded.

“Funding these two additional devices for contraception will improve equity and access to health care. It means everyone, regardless of their income, can now choose a Mirena or a Jaydess as a contraceptive option,” says Jackie Edmond, Chief Executive at Family Planning.

“Cost can be one reason that people don’t choose a particular contraceptive type – and that’s not acceptable. Access to highly effective, long-acting contraception makes a real and positive difference – on a daily basis.

“This is a great step forward for New Zealand – it’s something we’ve wanted for a very long time, and we are delighted.”