FNHA: Accessing contraception, abortion and sexually transmitted infection counselling and services during COVID-19
These essential services remain available in many locations
A message from Dr. Unjali Malhotra, FNHA Medical Director Women’s Health; Andrea Medley and Cherlyn Cortes, FNHA Indigenous Wellness Team; Cindy Preston, FNHA Pharmacist; and Barbara Webster, FNHA Clinical Nurse Specialist Maternal Child Health
Note: the following article includes adult messages about sexuality.
At this time, you might be uncertain about which medical services are essential and remain available, and which services are limited or not available.
Contraception, abortion and sexually transmitted infection (STI) counselling and services are considered essential, so they remain available in many locations either in-person or virtually. Even during a pandemic, people need to be able to get information, counselling, services, and their medications.
Accessing contraception, abortion and STI counselling and services during the pandemic
First Nations Health Benefits provides coverage for up to a three-month supply of contraceptives at a time. COVID-19 has impacted the drug supply chain and for supply management reasons, pharmacists may only able to dispense a limited supply of certain medications. Talk to your pharmacist about possible impacts to your birth control refills.
Coordinating prescription pick-up and essential travel is important during this time. Contact your pharmacy to request a refill well before your birth control runs out, or, if your prescription has run out, talk to your pharmacist about getting a small supply until your doctor or nurse practitioner is able to provide a prescription.
Options for Sexual Health clinics are still running in most communities; clinic staff have made changes to keep their staff and communities safe, including practising physical distancing.
Some health centres and nursing stations may be able to support contraception counselling and STI counselling. Speak with the community health nurse at your health centre. If they cannot provide support themselves, they should be able to help find someone who can.
It is important to know that you may be able to extend the use of some birth control methods like IUDs and Depo Provera or go onto a different schedule. Please contact one of the following to get more information about the methods of birth control you use:
• Your health care provider, if you have one.
• If you do not have a health care provider, or cannot access them at this time, call the FNHA Virtual Doctor of the Day at 1-855-344-3800. Click here for details on using this service.
• Sex Sense (a “free, pro-choice, sex-positive, and confidential service”) has a team of registered nurses, counsellors, and sex educators who offer information and resources on sex, sexuality and sexual health, for people living in BC and the Yukon. Call Toll-Free 1-800-Sex-Sense (1-800-739-7367).
“Medical abortion,” in which medication is used to end a pregnancy, can be accessed remotely / virtually through the Willow Clinic. If you do not live near a pharmacy to pick up the needed medication, it can often be sent to you. This is all organized by the Willow Clinic, but can take a little time. For information about other forms of abortion, contact Sex Sense.
If your community is on lockdown, connect with your health centre regarding how to access contraception, abortion or STI counselling and services. Other sources of information include:
First Nations Virtual Doctor of the Day program: www.fnha.ca/virtualdoctor