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Contraceptives work better if both partners agree on use

September 08, 2010

Young, sexually active women who said their partners were strongly in favor of using birth control were more than twice as likely to use a reliable contraceptive method consistently, according to a new study.

The issue is important because young adults have high rates of unintended pregnancy, and even women who say they are not trying to become pregnant can sometimes be ambivalent about becoming pregnant.

Researchers from Oregon State University questioned 435 couples in Los Angeles and Oklahoma City. The young women in the study were ages 18 to 25. The study showed that half of the women who did not want a child with their partner in the next two years used contraception effectively. Just more than half of the women whose partners did not want a child with them in the next two years used contraception effectively. Overall in the study, only 43% of the women were classified as effective contraceptive users.

The researchers also found a communication gap between partners. Both partners said they participated greatly in contraceptives decisions, but partners often did not agree on whether they had even discussed birth control.

"To a man, having a discussion about contraception might mean that he asked if she was on the pill," the lead author of the study, Marie Harvey, said in a news release. "To a woman, however, that exchange may not count as a conversation. A conversation to her might mean sitting down and having a lengthy discussion about what type of birth control to use."

The study is published in the journal Women's Health Issues.

-- Shari Roan / Los Angeles Times

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