In a recent interview with The Malta Independent, gynaecologist Dr Michelle Montanaro Gauci discussed the realities of contraception and governmental health services available in Malta.
In the interview Dr Montanaro Gauci discusses the lack of available contraceptives in Malta, even though “access to the full range contraceptive services is a woman’s right, as clearly stated by the WHO, the Council of Europe and the United Nations”. Despite an increase in “contraceptive products available across the Maltese Islands”, and a more liberal approach to contraception, not all forms of contraception are available. Dr Montanaro Gauci listed the unavailable contraceptives as follows;
“What is still not available are the female condoms – condoms worn internally by the woman, and also cervical caps and the diaphragm. The contraceptive patch – a patch usually worn on the skin of the upper arm or the tummy, which provides combined oestrogen and progesterone hormones, is also not available.”
She states that this is simply because nobody in Malta imports these products.
While it is true that there is still room for advancement in the contraceptive market, female condoms are actually available in Malta
Local online sex shop pleasuremalta.com stocks a wide variety of items, including female condoms. The condoms have been available through their site for the past five years, however there has been very low demand for them from the public.
Female condoms are a barrier method of contraception worn inside the vagina. They prevent pregnancy by stopping sperm from meeting an egg, as well as decreasing contact to avoid the transmission of STIs. If used correctly, female condoms are 95% effective.
Pleasure Malta is attempting to decrease the taboo when it comes to discussing sex, and to better educate the public on the topic of sexual health
“The issue lies with education and giving a wider and more inclusive understanding of what sexuality and sex is all about”, said a spokesperson from Pleasure Malta. “If we look at the PSCD syllabus taught in schools, they don’t even mention such condoms.” It is also important to note the relevance of such protection in LGBTQ+ sex, of which there is very little awareness on the island.
“The idea that it is the man’s job to get and wear a condom is strengthening the imbalance in power when it comes to consent.”
Dr Montanaro Gauci called for better Governmental provision of contraception
As despite the availability of condoms (both male and female), “there needs to be increased availability of and accessibility to all the methods of contraception, which is definitely not the case at this point in time.” There is a lot of misinformation surround contraception, which is essential education for anyone engaging in sexual acts.
“Medical professionals in government service can consult with women and prescribe contraception but once the prescription is given, the woman must go and buy the contraceptive at market price, outside the government health services. The same goes for any contraceptive insertion procedure that is required. The government pharmacy has no contraceptives or contraceptive devices in stock.”