A recent study by Strategic Pharma Solutions found that approximately two in five sexually active women of child-bearing age are not using contraceptives. Surveyed women seem to greatly underestimate their risk of unintended pregnancy, causing some to question the effectiveness of sexual education in our schools.
The study, Contraception in America, surveyed 1,000 women ages 18 to 49 with a comparison sample of 201 physicians.
While the study had numerous key findings, the most prominent were:
- Forty percent of women of reproductive age are currently using no form of birth control.
- These women believe to be less at risk of accidental pregnancy than they actually are. Only 7 percent believed they were at high risk and 11 percent thought they were at medium risk.
- While most of the women (91 percent) have heard of it, more than half of them (53 percent) do not understand how emergency contraception works.
- Of the women who take a birth control pill, many do not take it properly.
Sponsored by Teva Women’s Health, Inc, the study brings to light the misinformation and confusion of women about contraception and pregnancy.
Most of the women surveyed indicated they thought they were at low-risk for getting pregnant while, scientifically speaking, most of the women were at a much greater risk than they thought, with up to 37 percent having experienced an unintended pregnancy.
The lack of education could stem from lack of access to health care for many women.
Rebecca Brightman, MD, a clinical instructor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, stated, “While contraception is widely available, women don’t access clinics or health care providers. Women who are uninsured frequently don’t seek the attention of a health care provider until it is too late.”
Blisstree blogger, Hanna Brooks Olsen, is one of many who believe the issue can be traced back to sexual education (or lack thereof) in schools. She writes, “abstinence-only education and lying to teens (which happens a lot), does women a huge disservice later in life. It leaves them uninformed or unaware of their fertility choices as adults. Additionally, young adults are actually better at using birth control regularly and correctly than women in their late 20s, and tend to take it more seriously. When equipped with information, teen pregnancy rates decline.”
With a looming election and women’s rights at the forefront of discussion, one has to look at the data and question where the miscommunication and misinformation is occurring. Olsen continues, “The serious lack of real, pragmatic information about fertility, pregnancy and birth control in this country is harmful to women and to families. It’s time to stop treating birth control as something that’s just for hussies, and start treating it as what it is: Basic medicine that women of all backgrounds rely on.”
According to this survey, women and physicians need to have more open and honest communication about contraception and pregnancy probability. With the correct information and preparation for proper use, women will be better equipped to make medical decisions about not just their health but their life as a whole.