We would like to thank all of the women who participated in our Canadian Sexual Health Survey. The survey gathered information regarding sexual and reproductive health, contraception use, pregnancy outcomes and accessibility of reproductive health services, enabling us to analyze how women plan and space their pregnancies. Unlike many countries, Canadian epidemiological data on sexual health to this date is very limited. Collection of this data is essential to inform health policies to improve the quality of life of Canadian women and their families. We hope that the government will be inspired to continue our project through the regular collection of nation-wide data about sexual health in the future, in order to create policies that are best representative of our Canadian population.
Our project surveyed 21 communities across all 5 health authorities, reaching many communities without airports or car rentals that were more challenging to access. “But it was often in these communities where we would have the warmest welcomes, with people stopping our surveyors on the street to say ‘we support you!’ and providing connections, free printing, or booths at farmers’ markets,” says Eva McMillan, research coordinator of the Sexual Health Survey. “I feel that this speaks to power of the voices of rural BC. The people there want to express their need for contraception and to have their voices heard about their sexual health and experiences. Our project is going to give voice to these women.”
We are currently using the data obtained from our survey to create Canada’s First Cost Effectiveness Model to predict, at a provincial level, the number of pregnancies and their subsequent outcomes based on survey indicators for sexual partners and activity, contraception use and social determinants of health. Policy analyses using this model can assist the government to evaluate the potential health and financial benefits of free contraception for women, thereby supporting evidence-informed policies for optimal health system strategies. When women have access to effective contraceptive techniques that they may have not otherwise been able to afford, they are able to avoid unintended pregnancies and abortions. According to a study by the Guttmacher Institute, health system costs can be reduced by 75% by investing in family planning to avoid treating complications arising from unintended pregnancies.
Photo of Eva McMillan, Research Coordinator