New report says young people use contraception less consistently

Guttmacher Institute is reporting on a new study of women’s contraceptive usage across age ranges.

A new study of women’s contraceptive use around the world finds that sexually active 15-19-year-olds are more likely than their 20-49-year-old counterparts to use contraceptives inconsistently and, on average, experience a 25% higher rate of contraceptive failure.
The study’s authors, Ann K. Blanc of EngenderHealth et al., believe that compared with adult women, adolescent women face more obstacles to consistent contraceptive use–including feeling embarrassed about seeking out contraceptives, not being able to afford them and not knowing how to use them correctly–and may be more likely to abandon a method and try another if they experience side effects, which often leads to gaps in contraceptive use. The authors also note that, in comparison with adult women, adolescents tend to use methods with higher failure rates, to use methods less effectively and to be more fertile–all factors that increase the risk of unintended pregnancy.

This isn’t really surprising data, and while the study acknowledges that contraceptive usage among young women has gone up in many countries, this inconsistent usage could definitely be an issue. This study is interesting because it looks globally at contraceptive usage. Access and education to contraceptives vary widely across the world, depending on the economic situation, political environment and other factors in determining access. The study also points out that demand for contraceptives will only rise as the population increases, and that international health systems are going to have to be significantly improved to adjust to this rise.
You can read the rest of the study here.

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18 Comments

  1. uberhausfrau
    Posted July 22, 2009 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    ah! i just mentioned this yesterday in the abstinence post – it would make more sense for long term options to be given to young women, rather than daily.

  2. Ariel
    Posted July 22, 2009 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Round of applause for abstinence-only sex education.

  3. RMJ
    Posted July 22, 2009 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    This is why it’s incredible to me that the abstinence-only policies still receive any funding at all.

  4. Tracey T
    Posted July 22, 2009 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    AHHAAAA!!!! You see, contraceptives do not work because they fail some of the time (that it’s do to inconsistnt use or lack of knowledge how to use is not relevant) so they should not be encuraged any of the time. Instead o making them more accessible, teaching proper use, and when possible making sure women can consult a physician before picking one to limit the likelihood of choosing one with side effects that are unbearable for them (not to mention making form of BC that cause fewer/less severe sid effects cheaper), we should just tell the dirty wenches not to have sex at all, untill marriage when they should reproduce like rabbits (because even if used correctly BC causes infertility and cancer).

  5. Kurumi & Cheese
    Posted July 22, 2009 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    I believe it.
    I don’t know how often I’ve seen a young woman reporting that she thinks she might be pregnant and then states that well, she went on hbc, but it gave her a mild side effect she didn’t like, so she stopped it almost immediately.
    I really wish that these young women would realize that A.) many side effects go away with use, and B.) many side effects are far better than having a baby.

  6. dancerjess
    Posted July 22, 2009 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    Reason number 8 million why I love my mirena: it’s failure rate is impressively low! I just wish I had it when I was 16 – I can definitely understand why teenage girls don’t use contraception consistently.

  7. englishteacher
    Posted July 22, 2009 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    dancerjess,
    I’m not currently in need of BC, but I try to look at it every now and then so I’ll have an idea of what I want before I do. Looking at the site for mirena, I saw that they recommend it for women who already have a child. Do you know if it’s not available for childless (or free, depending on your perspective, I guess) women?
    Thanks!

  8. Kurumi & Cheese
    Posted July 22, 2009 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    I believe it.
    I don’t know how often I’ve seen a young woman reporting that she thinks she might be pregnant and then states that well, she went on hbc, but it gave her a mild side effect she didn’t like, so she stopped it almost immediately.
    I really wish that these young women would realize that A.) many side effects go away with use, and B.) many side effects are far better than having a baby.

  9. Brenna
    Posted July 22, 2009 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    As a teenage girl, this is just depressing.

  10. femme.
    Posted July 22, 2009 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Interesting study, Miriam. I agree that it isn’t really surprising data. I think the primary reasons for inconsistent contraceptive use among young women is access and education. Abstinence-only education is completely useless, and often harmful. Regarding access, in many areas, women don’t have regular/reliable access to reproductive health care at all, especially young women who typically have less money and less options. I am twenty-two and I rely on Planned Parenthood. It’s actually my only form of health care because I’m uninsured. But I have experienced gaps in contraceptive use – Planned Parenthood is SO busy here, sometimes I don’t get in for an appointment for a couple weeks or even a month. I support Planned Parenthood and that is no slight to them – they are so busy all the time because that is the only place many of us have access to.

  11. Beatrice
    Posted July 22, 2009 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    I’m 21, haven’t had a kid, and my doctor’s suggested I switch from the pill to Mirena in a year or two. I think maybe they’re easier to get in there if you’ve had a kid, but it’s still doable for those of us who haven’t. The answer you’ll get probably depends on your doctor and their attitudes about women and reproduction — mine is pretty amazing.

  12. SenBoxerFan
    Posted July 22, 2009 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    I am kinda of explain why this is happening. First of all, I live in the inner city in California, and the nearest Planned Parenthood is 25 – 30 blocks away, which require a 1.10 bus ride and 1.10 to come back.
    PP is very small, so one have to wait one to two hours, so many high school kids are unwilling to miss a school day to get birth control. I think that PP should explain their clinics more, but because of budget cut, they seems to be short in location and staff.
    Second of all, many high schools kids are too embrassessed to get birth control pills by traveling to PP, they can’t afford it, or they don’t want to go to the family’s doctors, and many don’t know where the nearest, cheapest gyn who can give them birth control.
    To actually get birth control or contraceptives is to acknowledge that one is having sex, which is an embrassing subject to begins with.
    Many teenagers are not in long term monagamous relationship, since teenage dramas cause high school kids to break up.
    The teenage boys refuse to or forget to use a condom, and it is just not sexy for the girls to carried around condoms or else they will get the slut reputation.
    That is why so many teenage girls don’t use contraceptives or condoms, because
    1. Only sluts plans for sex by using contraceptives and condoms, good girls don’t planned for sex, it just happen passionately between to teenagers who is in love
    2. Planned Parenthood is too far and there is not enough low cost women clinics that can help distribute contraceptives
    3. It is embrassing to talk about sex, with a your partner, or a stranger at the women clinic
    4. Many teenagers are not in long term relationship, where they are faithful to one partner
    5. Did I mention that only Sluts carry around condoms and use contraceptives to prevent pregnancy?

  13. SenBoxerFan
    Posted July 22, 2009 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    I am kind of explained why this is happening. First of all, I live in the inner city in California, and the nearest Planned Parenthood is 25 – 30 blocks away, which require a 1.10 bus ride and 1.10 to come back.
    PP is very small, so one has to wait one to two hours; so many high school kids are unwilling to miss a school day to get birth control. I think that PP should explain their clinics more, but because of budget cut, they seem to be short in location and staff.
    Second of all, many high schools kids are too embarrassed to get birth control pills by traveling to PP, they can’t afford it, or they don’t want to go to the family’s doctors, and many don’t know where the nearest, cheapest gyn who can give them birth control.
    To actually get birth control or contraceptives is to acknowledge that one is having sex, which is an embarrassing subject to, begins with.
    Many teenagers are not in long term monogamous relationship, since teenage dramas cause high school kids to break up.
    The teenage boys refuse to or forget to use a condom, and it is just not sexy for the girls to carry around condoms or else they will get the slut reputation.
    That is why so many teenage girls don’t use contraceptives or condoms, because
    1. Only sluts plans for sex by using contraceptives and condoms, good girls don’t planned for sex, it just happen passionately between two teenagers who is in love
    2. Planned Parenthood is too far and there is not enough low cost women clinics that can help distribute contraceptives
    3. It is embarrassing to talk about sex, with a your partner, or a stranger at the women clinic, especially when it is a subject that is not discuss at home and one is taught abstinence only until marriage at school.
    4. Many teenagers are not in long term relationship, where they are faithful to one partner
    5. Did I mention that only Sluts carry around condoms and use contraceptives to prevent pregnancy?

  14. SenBoxerFan
    Posted July 22, 2009 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    However, I might add that when I am go to an university in a small town, it northern california, where it is very liberal, there is a very low pregnancy rate among college students, because many students got over the Only sluts carries condoms and use birth control, and Planned Parenthood shows up at the University’s campus twice a week, so many students have easier access to get birth control and other women reproductive health.
    I think that high schools should have Planned Parenthood show up at the school twice a week, so that they can help the girls and boys with reproductive issues and help lower the rate of teenage pregnancy.

  15. anteup
    Posted July 22, 2009 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    I do actually like that they even mentioned side effects. You rarely hear about that imo.
    I’ve yet to find something hormonal that doesn’t kill my sex drive. Thankfully despite my age and childfree status I was able to find someone willing to tie my tubes.
    Maybe the older crowd doesn’t have as many gaps in coverage because they’ve had time to find out what works for them and what does not.

  16. anteup
    Posted July 22, 2009 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    A lot of doctors won’t consent to an IUD/IUC for young childless/childfree women. Sterilizations are also EXTREMELY hard to come by if you haven’t had a child.
    I scoffed, and still scoff at this. However, I’m young and childfree. My doctor is a lovely man who didn’t even bat an eye when I asked for a paragard. It expelled two months later. We think this might be because I haven’t had a child.

  17. Jewell
    Posted July 22, 2009 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    I think people forget that birth control is a medication that messes with hormones and not every women’s body can manage it, nor should they be expected to stomach it when it disrupts their life and emotional stability. I tried two different forms of birth control in the past and both made life unmanageable, emotionally. The pressures of life provide me little time to acclimate to such a shift in stability, even if it is for a “temporary” six months.
    I believe the line of thought that women should just stomach birth control borders on the ‘abstinence is the best form of birth control’ logic. E.g. Prescription Birth control is the most effective way to prevent pregnancy every women should be using it, not doing so is irresponsible.

  18. Marcy Webb
    Posted July 22, 2009 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    The study also focuses on women and birth control, and not men and women and birth control. To me, it is a joint effort.

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