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Sex Without a Safety Net

Contraceptive Use Down Among Sexually Active Adults

Wrong Message on Birth Control? continued...

Lindberg, too, says well-meaning messages may be to blame.

"Women need clear, consistent messages that hormonal contraception when used properly is a 99% effective means of preventing unintended pregnancy," she says. "To the extent that abstinence education and other programs are highlighting the failure rate as opposed to the protection rate for these methods, women may be confused. Efforts to scare women about the health risks of birth control pills, or saying birth control doesn't always protect you, leave women saying, 'Why bother?"

Respecting a woman's right to reproductive choice, Moos says, means more than simply asking her whether or not she wants to use birth control. It means helping each woman make the choices that are best for her.

"In the clinical setting we are too quick to assign women a birth control method and to make it uncomfortable for the patient to come back and say, 'This isn't working for me,'" Moos says. "Or we assign them a method without accounting for the two or three months it takes for their bodies to get used to it. I see so many people who say they can't use birth control. That is because they had a bad experience with one formulation but don't know there are many formulations."

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