By Breanne Massey

Pioneer Staff

The anatomy of sexual health could be changing across B.C. as researchers collect information about family planning.

Healthcare professionals have been conducting voluntary surveys with eligible participants between the ages of 14 and 49 since 2014.

Surveyor Jess Wishart recently arrived in Invermere to continue collecting information about sexual health and family planning methods for the Canadian Sexual Health Survey (CSHS), which is a provincial study from the BC Womens Hospital and Health Centre.

The Ministry of Health and BC Womens Hospital join me in our great hope that the women of Invermere and across B.C. will help us to best design health system support so women and families are able to time and space their pregnancies, said family planning researcher Dr. Wendy Norman. For example, could we provide free contraception for all women?

We can only make these decisions if women agree to tell us of their experiences and needs through answering this survey. Your voice and perspective are essential.

The CSHS sent surveyors out to Invermere, Prince George and Williams Lake on April 15th who will spend the spring broaching the subject of sexual health with randomly selected households.

Prospective participants have been randomly selected to volunteer anonymous and confidential information in exchange for a $20 honorarium to compensate the time spent on the survey.

The selected households will receive an introduction letter in the mail before the survey begins. The surveyors will then go door-to-door in pairs through a wide variety of neighbourhoods to see if females between 14 and 49 are interested in participating, and then the eligible participants can decide if they would like to participate.

Volunteers have the option to decline participation in the survey, choose not to answer a question or stop the survey at any time.

The research project has already complied with the highest academic and ethical standards, which was approved by the University of British Columbia (UBC) Childrens and Womens Hospital Research Ethics Board as well as the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. It is expected the information garnered from the study will be compiled and shared publicly in hopes of improving womens health care options.

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