Opinion Former Article

Marie Stopes International: Low awareness of reliable contraception increases the risk of unplanned pregnancies

Almost two in five (39%) 16-24 year old women have used emergency contraception after sex, indicating that they may not have used or had problems with their contraceptive method, new research undertaken for Marie Stopes International has found.

The YouGov research highlights the need for greater awareness of the most effective contraceptive methods, such as the implant, IUD, IUS and injection. These methods remove the risk of pregnancy associated with incorrect use, forgetting to use contraception or condom failure. When these contraceptive methods are used with a condom, women receive highly effective protection against both pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.

Marie Stopes International is aiming to raise awareness of long-acting reversible methods of contraception (LARC) during the Christmas/New Year festive season in order to reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies.

More than three quarters of women (77%) aged 16-24 want a contraceptive method that they didn't have to think about every day or plan for during sex, but just 1% are aware of all four of the most reliable methods of contraception (injection, IUD, IUS and implant) that once fitted, women don't need to worry about for up to 10 years.

The YouGov survey of 503 women aged 16 to 24 found that:

More than three quarters (77%) of women that had used the contraceptive pill have forgotten to take it within the recommended period

35% have not used contraception during the "heat of the moment"

Almost one in four (23%) said they had not used contraception because they had drunk too much alcohol

Only 1% were trying to get pregnant.

Despite being the most reliable methods of contraception, only seven per cent of young women are using the IUD, IUS, contraceptive implant or injection, as their primary method of contraception.

Tracey McNeill, Vice President and Director of UK and Western Europe at Marie Stopes International said:

"The research is very clear that most women want a contraceptive method that they can simply forget about - but many simply are unaware of the alternatives to the pill.

"We want women to be considering their contraceptive options ahead of the Christmas and New Year festivities. Women are very busy this time of year and their usual routines can be disrupted making it harder to remember contraception. Unfortunately Marie Stopes International experiences a significant increase in women accessing our unplanned pregnancy services during the New Year as a direct result of men and women forgetting to use or having their contraception fail over the Christmas/New Year festivities.

"Women using LARC such as the IUD, IUS, implant and contraceptive injection are at an exceptionally low risk of falling pregnant."

Twig Townson, 23 and a VIP Nightclub Host, went on the implant after needing to resort to emergency contraception: "Like most girls I was always forgetting to take my pill, missing one here and there. My friend was on her second implant and told me about it, how it reduced her periods and only needed changing every three years. This was music to my ears.

I was worried it was going to hurt but it didn't. I know that if I had known about this in school I would of had this done at 15. It's pain free, worry free and time consuming free!"

For more information visit www.mariestopes.org.uk


Media contacts: Marie Stopes International Press Office: +44 (0) 20 7034 2389 or 07769166516.

Notes to editors

* Condoms should also be used to prevent STIs.
**Statistical Bulletin. Abortion Statistics, England and Wales: 2009. Department of Health, London, 2010.

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 503 adults aged 16-24. Fieldwork was undertaken between 24th and 26th November. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 16-24).

77% of women aged 16-24 either agreed or strongly agreed that they wanted a contraceptive method that they didn't have to think about every day or plan for during sex

77% of women who had ever taken the pill had said they had forgotten to take it within the recommended time period

44% of women used the daily contraceptive pill

18% used the condom as their primary method of contraception

23% of women said they had not used contraception because they had drunk too much alcohol.14% had done so twice or more times and 6% preferred "not to say"

39% of women said they had taken emergency contraception on one or more occasion. Another 7% had considered using it.

Marie Stopes International

Marie Stopes International is Britain's leading independent sexual and reproductive health provider, delivering services to more than 100,000 clients across nine centres each year. We are an outcomes-driven health service provider, delivering high quality care and clinical excellence.

Internationally, we provide family planning and sexual healthcare to more than six million people in 44 countries annually. As a not-for-profit organisation surplus funds from the UK clinics support our work globally. Our mission is to ensure that women and men everywhere have a choice when it comes to having children. For more information, please visit our website www.mariestopes.org.uk

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