What Do You Know About Contraception?

Contraception survey of women reveals gaps in knowledge

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) The best way to prevent an unintended pregnancy — aside from abstinence — is consistent, effective use of contraception. Knowledge about contraception, therefore, is power.

A recent survey of American women and their medical doctors reveals what the state of that knowledge is.

While women regularly talk with their doctors about contraception, there is still a good amount of misinformation about contraception out there.

"Talk to your doctor about contraception."

The survey, sponsored by Teva Women's Health, Inc., is called Contraception in America: A National Landmark Survey of Women of Reproductive Age and Physicians Treating Women.

The survey included 1,000 women between the ages of 18 and 49, as well as 100 OB/GYN doctors and 101 primary care doctors.

It was conducted on landlines and cell phones from December 2011 through January 2012.

Among the findings were that 43 percent of women who have been pregnant said at least one of their pregnancies was unintended.

Among those who had an unintended pregnancy, 45 percent said it may have caused by ineffective birth control, such as a broken condom or not taking a birth control pill.

About ten percent of the women who responded and were presently using birth control said they thought their birth control had failed at least once in the past year.

Yet the survey also found that most sexually active women believe they are at very low risk for accidental pregnancy.

However, 45 percent of the women reported that they have not used any kind of birth control in the past month.

Further, two out of three women said it's hard to remember to take a birth control pill on a regular basis because of their lifestyle.

Also among the survey findings were misinformation or misunderstandings about contraception.

This was true in particular regarding IUDs and emergency contraception.

Among women who were familiar with the birth control method called an intrauterine device (IUD), 15 percent believed it lasted for less than a year, and 17 percent said it lasts one to four years. Usually, however, most IUDs last about five years.

Regarding emergency contraception, 47 percent were correct in believing that it prevents pregnancy, but 40 percent incorrectly believe it terminates a pregnancy already in progress.

In fact, emergency contraception does not terminate a pregnancy.

The survey asked women if they were familiar with the term "hormonal contraception," but among those who said they were, 20 percent said they didn't know which methods counted as hormonal.

Some good news from the survey was the high reported rate of communication between doctors and their patients regarding contraception.

The women surveyed said they usually bring up contraception before their doctors do.

Nevertheless, 98 percent of OB/GYNs and 88 percent of the family doctors surveyed said they routinely talk about contraception with women during a general exam if the women is of reproductive age.

The survey was conducted Strategic Pharma Solutions, Inc. through the national public opinion research organization called Abt SRBI.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
September 25, 2012
Last Updated:
September 26, 2012