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Abused women are more likely to rely on condoms than birth control pil

Research Activities, June 2009, No. 346

Abused women are more likely to rely on condoms than birth control pills to prevent pregnancies

Studies suggest that women in abusive relationships often have unintended pregnancies because they do not use contraception. For instance, these women may not be able to control when intercourse occurs, rendering barrier methods of birth control useless; or, they may depend on their partner to use a condom.

Laura A. McCloskey, Ph.D., of Wayne State University, and colleagues surveyed 225 women in the Boston area on their methods and use of birth control. While the study did not find an association between abuse and not using contraception, the researchers did find a high rate of abused women who did not use birth control. For example, of the 115 women who reported being abused in the past year, 17 percent did not use birth control, compared with 11 percent of the 110 women who were not abused. For all women in the study, those who were married women and those who were between 40 and 49 years old were less likely than other women in the study to use birth control. The women in the latter group may not have used contraception because they believed they had a low risk of conceiving, the authors suggest.

Abused women most often used condoms (33 percent) to prevent pregnancy, while nonabused women most often used birth control pills (46 percent). The authors suggest that abused women who rely on condoms may face an unintended pregnancy if their partners refuse to use this method of contraception. They recommend abused women be counseled on backup birth control methods in case they encounter this situation. This study was funded in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS11088).

See "Intimate partner violence and women's contraceptive use," by Corrine M. Williams, Sc.D., Ulla Larsen, Ph.D., and Dr. McCloskey in the December 2008 Violence Against Women 14(12), pp. 1382-1396.

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Current as of June 2009
Internet Citation: Abused women are more likely to rely on condoms than birth control pil: Research Activities, June 2009, No. 346. June 2009. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://archive.ahrq.gov/news/research-activities/jun09/0609RA16.html