Sweden’s sexual healthcare varies widely: report

Where you live can have a significant effect on what level of sexual healthcare you're offered, according to a recent study from the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education (Riksförbundet för sexuell upplysning - RFSU).

Sterilisation, for instance, costs inhabitants of Blekinge, in southern Sweden, a mere 250 kronor ($39), while people in Östergötland have to shell out a hefty over 10,000 kronor for the same procedure.

“The high personal costs aren’t reasonable. The counties should be doing it for the patient fee,” said RFSU’s secretary general Åsa Regnér to news agency TT.

In the beginning of June, the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) ruled that all counties must offer sterilisations, even if there is no medical need for the procedure.

Today, counties Dalarna and Örebro, both in central Sweden, sterilize patients for 250 kronor, but in eight Swedish counties, those who wish to have the procedure performed must cough up thousands of kronor.

Women in the counties Östergötland and Södermanland have to pay most of all, 13,200 kronor.

Young people are also shelling out very different amounts for protection.

Contraceptive pills that are free in Skåne, in southern Sweden, still cost up to 600 kronor in Västerbotten, in the other end of the country.

“It’s interesting and remarkable that Göran Hägglund, or county politicians as far as we can tell, have yet to show any political leadership. The health of young people needs to be prioritised,” said Regnér.

Even if your greatest desire is to have a child, you will face enormous differences in the healthcare offered, depending on what region of Sweden you happen to live in.

Sweden is among the world’s leading countries for in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatments. RFSU’s study shows that rules for the use of this treatment vary greatly, however.

Northern areas of Sweden consider a woman to be too old for IVF at 37 years of age, years before most other counties. In Värmland, for instance, the cut-off is at age 44.

“Some upper age limit is certainly reasonably, but the most important thing should be to make an individual assessment of the person in front of you. These seven years make a huge difference, and that needs to be looked over,” said Regnér.

Lena Hallgren, Socialdemocratic MP and member of the Riksdag’s social committee, doesn’t approve of such vast differences between counties.

“The answer is naturally no. Some differences are alright, but when differences grow so large that people start wondering where to live in order to be able to afford a sterilisation, it’s obviously not good.”

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