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Birth Control Health Center

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Even Best Contraceptive Methods Can Fail

Unplanned Pregnancies Sometimes Occur Among Birth Control Users


The researchers found that 97% of the sexually active, reproductive-aged women who did not want to conceive used contraception. But 33% of all pregnancies were unplanned, and 65% of unplanned pregnancies occurred among women using contraception.

Oral contraceptive users accounted for 21% of the unwanted pregnancies in the women surveyed, while 9% of such pregnancies occurred among IUD users, 12% among condom users, and 23% among users of other contraceptive methods, such as male withdrawal or avoiding sex on fertile days.

Misuse of the contraceptive methods used was the main reason given to explain the unplanned pregnancies, with 60% of pill users saying they had forgotten one or more pill. More than half of women whose unplanned pregnancies occurred while using condoms said the condom slipped or tore during sex, and 30% said they did not use it on the occasion in which they got pregnant.

One unplanned pregnancy out of three was due to regular non-use of contraception. The most common reason given -- by 64% of the women -- was the belief that there was no risk of pregnancy. But one in eight women said they did not know where to go for birth control advice.

"There is a definite need for better information about all of the birth control options available," reproductive health advocate Melissa Dear tells WebMD. "Healthcare professionals need to be better trained to give women information about all of their choices, and they need to help them identify which ones will work best for them." Dear is a spokeswoman for the Family Planning Association in the U.K.

Bajos agrees that medical professionals who council women about their contraception options need to be made aware that a one-method-fits-all approach does not work.

"One way to help reduce abortions is to help women chose the best birth control methods for them," she says. "Obviously, as we saw in this study, that doesn't always mean oral contraceptives, because it won't work if you have a lifestyle that is not conducive to taking a pill every day."

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