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Study shows women may overestimate the effectiveness of common contraceptives

New research suggests women may not fully understand the effectiveness of the most popular forms of birth control: the Pill and condoms. The study found that after women were given comprehensive contraceptive counseling, 71 percent chose an intrauterine device (IUD) or contraceptive implant.

The study, to be published in an upcoming American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, surveyed 4,144 St. Louis-area women. Subjects were asked to rate different birth control options. The researchers found that 45 percent overestimated the effectiveness of the Pill, condoms, the hormonal path, the hormonal vaginal ring and the injection hormone Depo-Provera.

I was surprised by the numbers in a Reuters Health article about the study:

It's estimated that between 0.2 percent and 0.8 percent of women who use an IUD will have an unplanned pregnancy within a year. The rate is just 0.05 percent with a contraceptive implant.

The advantage is that unlike birth control pills and condoms, the IUD does not rely on perfect use.

With the Pill, the pregnancy rate with "typical use" is about nine percent per year. With condoms, it's between 18 and 21 percent.

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