State health minister C Vijaya Baskar has launched the centrally-funded 'Antara' scheme at the Egmore Women and Children hospital. Under which in every three months, women in the age group of 18-45 years will be given contraceptive Depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA) injections which will be free of costs at all state-run primary health centers.
The contraceptive DMPA injection will add to the present option of contraceptives such as condoms, intra-uterine devices, oral pills, morning-after pills and sterilization procedures for men and women- contains the birth control.
If women want to delay or avoid pregnancies she has to take injection nearly four times a year.
The injection is a safe and effective means of birth control for three months, said state family welfare director K Jyothi. "It offers an additional four week grace period before which the woman has to take the next shot. If the woman does not want to continue, she can get pregnant in four to six months." It gives women who are not able to convince their partners to use contraceptives another option.
Gynaecologists say it is ideal for women who tend to skip oral pills every day. It does not interfere with sex or breast-feeding and helps women overcome problems of irregular, heavy or painful periods. It also reduces the risk of ovarian or uterine cancer. "It is extremely good for a mass contraceptive programme," said senior gynaecologist Dr Jayashree Gajaraj.
But it can't be given to women with heart-diseases, side-effects such as irregular bleeding will last for more than three months. "It is best to discuss options with the health care provider before using injectable or any other contraception," Dr Gajaraj said.