alexa Perceptions of contraceptive effectiveness and health effects of oral contraception.
Reproductive Medicine

Reproductive Medicine

Gynecology & Obstetrics

Author(s): Tessler SL, Peipert JF

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PIP: The hypothesis that misperceptions about the effectiveness of contraceptive methods and the risks and benefits of oral contraceptive (OC) use are widespread in the US, even among the most educated population groups, was investigated in 147 women presenting to the Brown University (Providence, Rhode Island) health service and 189 students solicited by female volunteers on the campus. 90% of respondents correctly estimated the effectiveness of OCs in preventing pregnancy, but 32-34% inflated the pregnancy rates associated with subdermal implants and Depo-Provera. 60% overestimated the failure rate of the IUD. On the other hand, a majority underestimated the failure rates of barrier methods and spermicides. 41% believed OCs increase the risk of breast cancer and 33% thought the pill increases cervical cancer risk. 66% knew that OCs reduce dysmenorrhea and 50% were aware the pill decreases menstrual bleeding. However, the majority were unaware OCs reduce the risk of benign breast disease (95%), ectopic pregnancy (91%), pelvic inflammatory disease (90%), and anemia (89%). 81% were unaware of the protective effects of OCs against uterine cancer and 77% did not know they have a protective effect against ovarian cancer. In general, OC users were more aware of the health benefits of OCs than condom users. Finally, respondents were asked to rate their satisfaction with their current birth control method on a scale of 1-12. Mean satisfaction scores were significantly higher among OC users (10.3) than condom users (7.1). These findings indicate that, even among highly educated US women, misperceptions persist about the reliability of birth control, the risks of pregnancy, and the health effects of OCs.

This article was published in Womens Health Issues. and referenced in Gynecology & Obstetrics

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