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NHS Contraceptive Services: Cross-country variation in preferred method of contraception

October 31, 2013: New figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) show there was wide regional variation in the chosen method of contraception amongst those who attended NHS Contraceptive clinics.

**HSCIC must be quoted as the source of these figures

*Regional breakdown of the figures available

Today's report showed there was two-fold variation in some areas of the country for the male condom as the chosen method of contraception. In West Midlands Strategic Health Authority (SHA) one in four women opted for the male condom for contraception (23,100 out of 82,700, or 28 per cent) whereas in South West SHA this was one in seven (8,100 out of 56,000, or 14 per cent).4

The NHS Contraceptive Services 2012-13 report showed the contraceptive pill was the most popular method of contraception in more than half of attendances in South Central SHA (54 per cent), South East Coast SHA (53 per cent) and East of England SHA (52 per cent) but was less popular in Northern areas.

Where long acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs)5 are concerned, more than two in five women in North East SHA preferred this for contraception (24,600 out of 56,900, or 43 per cent) compared to just over one in five women in West Midlands SHA (19,100 out of 82,700, or 23 per cent).

Today's report shows that for NHS Contraceptive Services in England in 2012-13:7

  • There were 2.3 million attendances at these services, 194,000 (eight per cent) fewer compared to 2011-12 when there were 2.5 million attendances.
  • Almost one in three women in England requested long acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) from NHS Contraceptive Services (30 per cent, or 272,000), a small rise on the previous year where 28 per cent of women requested LARCs (259,000).
  • Oral contraceptives were the most common method of contraception for all age groups except for under 15 year olds where the male condom was the most common method.
  • The male condom was the preferred method of contraception in almost two thirds of men (63 per cent, 94,800 out of 149,000).

Read the full report at


Notes to editors

1. The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) was established on April 1 2013 as an Executive Non Departmental Public Body (ENDPB). It is England's trusted data source, delivering high quality information and IT systems to drive better patient services, care and outcomes. Its work includes publishing more than 130 statistical publications annually; providing a range of specialist data services; managing informatics projects and programmes and developing and assuring national systems against appropriate contractual, clinical safety and information standards.

2. Information on NHS community contraception clinic services (formerly family planning clinics) includes services provided by trusts in NHS clinics and as domiciliary visits and Brook services. Brook is a national voluntary sector provider of free and confidential sexual health advice and services, specifically for young people under 25.

3. Information on NHS community contraceptive services excludes services provided in out-patient clinics and those provided by General Practitioners. Limited data is presented for out-patient clinics sourced from the HSCIC's Hospital Episode Statistics (HES), prescription data from the Prescription Services Division and survey data from 'Contraception and Sexual Health 2008/09', a report published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on behalf of the HSCIC. This is a sample survey of women aged 16 to 49 and men aged 16 to 69 in Great Britain, and gives an overview of all contraception used irrespective of whether it is provided by the NHS or not. It also asks about sexual behaviour and knowledge of sexually transmitted infections. This report is presently not being continued but remains the latest source.

4. Figures have been rounded to the nearest 100, apart from figures over one million that are rounded to the nearest 100,000 and figures between 100,000 and one million are rounded to the nearest 1000.

5. Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARCs) include intra-uterine-devices (IUD), injectable contraception, implants and intra-uterine-systems (IUS).

6. Data for this year has been accepted via either the usual KT31 aggregated collection, or via the Sexual and Reproductive Health Activity Data set (SRHAD) record level data set. SRHAD will replace KT31 once all organisations have migrated to SRHAD.

7. All figures are based on first attendances at each clinic during the year, except for the count of total attendances which is not restricted to only first attendances.

8. For media enquiries please contact or 0845 257 6990.

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