There has been steady progress in contraceptive research over the years, expanding the options of safe birth control for young women across the world, as well as enhancing their economic opportunities and overall well-being. From the classic condoms to more advanced methods such as pills, diaphragms, implants, vaginal rings, shots, patches,or IUDs, there’s definitely more variety in the contraceptive department than ever before.
Unfortunately, the increasing number of options and the fact that no birth control method is perfect makes it difficult for women to decide which methods would work best for them. This is by no means meant to undermine the massive amount of work that has been carried out by scientists and researchers or cast a shadow on their achievements. Without their efforts, we’d still have to rely on ancient and potentially dangerous procedures to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
But we can’t ignore the fact that modern women still struggle to find answers to a whole range of questions and dilemmas that often remain unaddressed. So, it’s time to acknowledge the elephant in the room and start exploring the difficulties faced by women in the decision-making process.
A quick look at the demographics
The latest data from the Centers for Disease Control based on the period between 2015-2019 provides a glimpse into the age categories that are the most concerned with birth control. The report reveals that the use of birth control varies greatly across age groups: while 65% of women aged 15-49 were using some sort of contraception, the percentages changed when looking at specific age ranges. 73% of women between 40 to 49 years of age were on birth control, whereas the usage rate for the younger generation comprising women between 15-19 years was 37%. This confirms a reality that many people could have already guessed, showing that contraceptive use increases with age.
The survey also looked at the most common birth control methods used by women of all ages. Based on the findings, it appears that the pill, female sterilization, reversible contraception and male condoms are among the preferred contraception options for women.
Factors influencing the decision-making process
What we can learn from the study is that there’s a large percentage of sexually active women who are using different types of birth control. But this doesn’t answer one of the most important questions: How do these women go about finding the method that is right for them and what are the factors that influence their decisions?
According to an article published by Verywell Mind, most women are well-aware that choosing a contraceptive method is something that can greatly impact their health and well-being, so they don’t take it lightly. The women interviewed for the article cited different reasons for choosing a specific type of birth control. For some women, moving to a new stage of the relationship was what prompted them to switch to a different contraceptive method. For others, convenience and concerns over access to certain birth control options were among the factors that influenced their decision.
Health concerns also weighed heavily in the balance. A large number of women go on hormonal birth control, as it helps them reduce the physical, mental, and behavioral symptoms associated with premenstrual dysphoric disorder or PMDD. So, to sum things up, relationship dynamics, mental and physical health, lifestyle, and current policies are all factors that influence women’s choices when it comes to birth control.
Surprisingly or not, intrauterine devices (IUDs) have come to be the common denominator for women regarding contraception. Two decades ago, this long-acting form of contraception was less popular, but perceptions seem to have changed over time. The most likely reason for that is the increased safety and efficiency of newer models and the fact that they’re easily reversible.
Although choosing a contraceptive method can still feel daunting for a lot of young women out there, the fast and easy access to information that we enjoy today does make things a lot easier. Women can always rely on Google to provide them with a wealth of information on birth control options and draw their own conclusions. Apart from that, reputable brands in the sexual health industry like Condoms.uk also contribute to increasing awareness and educating the public on these topics.
The need for better sex and health education
Speaking of education, this is without a doubt a determining factor in helping women make safe and sound birth control choices. Although sex and health education is included in most school curriculums, teens don’t seem to get much out of it. The most likely sources where young women get their information on contraception are television, friends, family, doctors, or girl scouts. Middle school and high school are way lower on the list.
Even if school programs teach young women about safe sex and how to protect themselves against unwanted pregnancies, they offer very limited information that doesn’t cover all the birth control options available and their characteristics, leaving many unanswered questions. Without a standardized requirement for sex education in all schools, the knowledge gap on safe intercourse and birth control will continue to be a cause of concern.
Since institutions can’t be trusted to provide the knowledge and education young women require, it’s up to the families to fill in the gap. It is estimated that nearly 50% of women in the U.S. have never had a conversation on sexual health with their parents, and that has to change. Creating an environment where young women can feel safe asking questions and talking about contraception and sex-related issues is the first step in helping them make well-informed decisions about their sex life. So, what we really need is a change in mentality that will ultimately lead to better health outcomes for everyone.