Women's health: potential for better coordination of services.


OBJECTIVE: To determine the proportion of women attending a genitourinary medicine clinic (GUMC) who are in need of contraception and the proportion of women attending a family planning clinic (FPC) who may require screening or treatment for sexually transmitted disease (STD). DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey. SETTING: A large FPC (17,600 attendances by women a year) and a large GUMC (20,060 attendances by women a year) in an inner London health district. SUBJECTS: All clients attending the two clinics in consecutive weeks (356 GUMC and 335 FPC). In addition a non-random cluster of other women attending the same clinics later in the year were interviewed in depth (21 GUMC and 20 FPC). RESULTS: Of women at the GUMC 10.4% (95% CI 7.2-13.6) were at risk of unwanted pregnancy and not using contraception. Women aged under 20 years and women not registered with a general practitioner (GP) were more likely to be in this group. A further 13.8% may have been using contraception unreliably as they were not obtaining contraception from a GP or FPC. Of women at the FPC 1.8% (95% CI 0.3-3.2) complained of symptoms of genitourinary infection. In-depth interviews showed that some women assumed the staff at both clinics would counsel them in all aspects of sexual health. CONCLUSIONS: The opportunities presented at GUMCs to reduce the incidence of unwanted pregnancy and the opportunities presented at FPCs to reduce the incidence and prevalence of STD should not be missed.

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