Even sex is in crisis in Venezuela, where contraceptives are growing scarce

In a country beset by shortages, this is one of the hardest: the disappearance of contraceptives. Doctors are reporting spikes in the numbers of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases that are adding to the nation’s deepening misery.

CARACAS, Venezuela — Yorlenis Gutierrez, a 28-year-old mother, spent months vainly scouring pharmacies for a drug whose scarcity is complicating her sex life and that of countless Venezuelans. In a country beset by shortages, this is one of the hardest: the disappearance of contraceptives.

When she couldn’t renew her supply of birth control pills, Gutierrez and her husband made a choice. Long-term abstinence was not an option, they agreed.

They tried to be careful, but soon she was pregnant with her second child.

“We barely eat three times a day now,” said a distraught Gutierrez, a former hair washer in a beauty salon who lost her job because of the economic crisis. “I don’t know how we’re going to feed another mouth.”

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In Venezuela, a collapse in oil prices coupled with nearly two decades of socialist policies has sparked a severe recession and one of the world’s highest inflation rates. People often wait hours in line to buy bread. Prices for staples jump almost by the day. Medical shortages range from antibiotics to cancer drugs.

But the shortage of contraceptives has put Venezuelans in a particularly bleak quandary: Have sex — or don’t?

For the most part they are, sometimes with dire consequences.

There are no recent official statistics. But Venezuelan doctors are reporting spikes in the numbers of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases that are adding to the country’s deepening misery.

Mainstream media outlets have published articles about the “counting method” of contraception that women can use to calculate when they are ovulating and likely to get pregnant. An article on the Venezuelan website Cactus24 offered “15 home remedies to avoid pregnancy,” including eating papaya twice a day and drinking two cups of tea with ginger.

Many Venezuelan women have found a solution on social media, where Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have become informal exchanges for the purchase or trading of birth control pills, intrauterine devices and implants — albeit at black-market prices.

Other women beg friends and relations to bring them contraceptives from outside…

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