WIGAN women who are too embarrassed to ask for emergency contraception are urged to seek help before it is too late.
An alarming 36 per cent of women in the region have had unprotected sex in the last two years, despite not planning a pregnancy, and an overwhelming majority – 88 per cent – said they did not use emergency contraception afterwards.
A total of 41 per cent thought that asking for emergency contraception was embarrassing, believing there is still a stigma around it and 45 per cent said they would not know where to get it.
The majority incorrectly believed repeat use of emergency hormonal contraception can make them infertile.
The latest figures show that Wigan had a rate of 32 teenage pregnancies per 1,000 under 18s in 2012, which is higher than the North West rate of 31.6 and the national average of 27.7.
But the statistics have fallen from 2007, which reveal the borough had a rate of 52.7, which was again higher than the North West and England. Health workers credit the decrease to better education and improved services.
Sue Knight, nurse manager at Brook Wigan, based in the Galleries shopping centre, said: “Brook believes that all young people should have access to the full choice of contraception, including emergency contraception. We need to provide young people with education and access to services, to help them make responsible decisions about their contraception needs, and to reduce rates of unintended pregnancy.
“Brook offers free, confidential care and advice which is specially designed to suit young people’s needs. There’s no need to feel nervous before visiting us, but if you have any questions, just give us a call beforehand.”
The UK’s leading sexual health charity FPA, who conducted the survey, is calling for better education and information.
Natika Halil, FPA’s director of health and wellbeing, said: “Our research has shown many barriers exist for women – including a lack of knowledge of what emergency contraception is, how it works and where to get it.”