Intrauterine devices taken out from millions of women in China

BEIJING: As China relaxed its controversial one child policy this year, millions of women are being helped by hospitals to remove intrauterine devices implanted to prevent child birth in the world’s most populous nation.

“About 3.5 million women had their intrauterine devices removed by local health authorities last year and more are expected to do so this year,” Song Li, deputy head of maternal and infant health-care at the National Health and Family Planning Commission said.

This year health workers in China are expected to help at least 3.5 million women remove intrauterine devices following the implementation of the universal two-child policy this year, she was quoted as saying by state-run China Daily today.

Local health authorities will continue to provide such services for free during the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-20) to help couples have a second child, she said.

Eighteen million women who plan to have a second child need to have their intrauterine devices removed, and most will do so within the next three years, Song said.

But at the same time women who have delivered second child are approaching hospital to get the devices implanted to prevent further child births, the report said. China, which has a population of 1.35 billion, has been relaxing its decades-old family planning policy gradually in recent years, as it faces a declining fertility rate and an ageing population, which has already touched about 220 million and the figure is expected to climb sharply in the coming years, affecting the country’s labour market and social
structure severely.

The latest amendment to the policy, adopted at the beginning of the year, allows all couples in China to have two children.

The National Health and Family Planning Commission said 90 million couples in China became eligible to have a second child due to the new policy, although half of them are already older than 40, meaning they are less likely to get pregnant.

He Wenjie, a gynecologist at Xuzhou Maternal and Child Healthcare Hospital in Xuzhou, Jiangsu province, said women are able to have their intrauterine devices removed for free at medical institutions designated by local health authorities, such as community health centres and township hospitals, as long as they had the device implanted by health authorities.

Ji Suwen, a doctor at the family planning department of Beijing Obstetrics and Gynecology Hospital, said many big hospitals charge patients for removing intrauterine devices.

“Almost all patients who come to our hospital for the procedure are those who cannot have the devices removed at grassroots hospitals for various reasons,” she said.

However, Ji said more women have come to the hospital to have intrauterine devices implanted than those seeking their removal.

“Many women have given birth to a second child and now they are turning to long-term contraceptive measures,” she was quoted by the Daily as saying.