This site is intended for health professionals only

Women admit birth control confusion

Women still do not understand the benefits, risks and effectiveness of intrauterine contraception, a US study has revealed.

Tessa Madden, from Washington University, in St Louis, Missouri, said: "Our findings reveal need for improvement in knowledge for all women, regardless of contraceptive history."

A survey of 1,665 women of child-bearing age revealed that 7.7% had or were still using intrauterine contraception, while up to 61% said they were happy with this method of contraception.

Although 78.7% of women polled said they knew about intrauterine contraception, only 28% had discussed this method with their healthcare provider. Subsequently, use of intrauterine contraception was more than 13 times higher among women who had consulted their doctor.

The study also indicated that 61% of women underestimated its effectiveness, and up to half of those polled incorrectly answered questions about its use and safety, with at least 40% of women uncertain about who was an appropriate candidate for intrauterine contraception. And users were more than seven times more likely to correctly estimate contraceptive effectiveness than non-users.

As many as 36% of women said they were concerned about complications such as infection, infertility, and cancer, while 17% of previous users had voiced concerns about infection or pelvic pain.

"Persistent efforts to improve provider and patient education are strongly needed," the report's authors concluded.

Copyright © Press Association 2011

Washington University