Birth Control Knowledge, Safe Sex Don't Necessarily Equate


NEW ORLEANS — Adolescent girls at high risk for pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections who participated in a recent study were knowledgeable about common birth control methods, but most reported having unprotected sex.

Of 332 girls aged 12–18 from a cohort with a high rate of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, 90% were aware of major birth control methods, including condoms and hormonal contraceptives.

The majority (84%) knew that condoms could help prevent sexually transmitted infections, but only 66% reported using a male or female condom the last time they had vaginal intercourse.

Only 43% used condoms each of the last five times they had vaginal intercourse, Ligia Peralta, M.D., reported in a poster at the annual meeting of the North American Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology.

Furthermore, a third of the girls who participated in the computerized survey used withdrawal as a means for preventing pregnancy, and more than 40% used oral and/or anal sex as a means for preventing pregnancy the last time they had sexual intercourse. Nearly 20% reported not using any type of birth control, wrote Dr. Peralta of the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

As for the use of hormonal contraceptives, 56% of 87 girls who used them said they use a long-acting injectable, 23% of the girls said they use a contraceptive patch, and 18% said they use OCs.

More than 70% of respondents said they would use combined, user-controlled hormonal contraceptives during the next 6 months, with the patch being the most popular choice (30% of respondents).

Easy-to-use, user-controlled, and combined hormonal contraceptives appear to be the trend of future contraceptive use among adolescents from this inner-city, high-risk population, Dr. Peralta reported, noting that although more than half of the hormonal contraceptive users used Depo-Provera, only 1.2% of that group expressed a desire to continue using it in the future.

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