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Relationship status drives women’s contraception choice

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New York: A woman’s choice of contraception is more often driven by current relationship status and frequency of sexual intercourse than by long-term pregnancy intentions, new research has found.

The findings suggest that even if a woman in a relationship does not want to get pregnant for the next one year, she may not go for a birth control method that offers contraception for an extended perioid than what birth control pills provide.

“Currently, oral contraceptives (the birth control pill) are the most commonly used contraception in the U.S. — used by 16 percent while LARCs (long-acting reversible contraceptives, including intrauterine devices and implants) are used by only 7.2 percent,” said Cynthia Chuang, associate professor of medicine at Penn State College of Medicine in the US.

LARCs are highly effective birth control methods that provide contraception for an extended period without requiring user action.

The researchers surveyed nearly 1,000 women in Pennsylvania on their contraception use — including prescription and over-the-counter methods, as well as natural family planning and withdrawal.

The women were also asked about their pregnancy intent, pregnancy history and pregnancy risk exposure.

The women surveyed were not planning on getting pregnant within at least the next 12 months.

The researchers found that partnership status and frequency of sexual intercourse — not long-term pregnancy intent, as the researchers had hypothesised — were the strongest predictors of prescription contraceptive use.

“We found that a lot of women who intend to get pregnant someday, but not for at least a year, were not using LARCs,” Chuang noted.

The findings appeared online in the journal Contraception.

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