By Joene Hendry
WESTPORT, CT (Reuters Health) – Sexually active women who do not use birth control list trust in their partners as the main explanation, according to study results presented Saturday at the American Psychological Association in San Francisco, California.
"For varying reasons, some women are not using birth control because they trust their partner," Dr. Sherry Dyche Ceperich told Reuters Health. These women "are giving up the responsibility of protecting themselves from an unwanted pregnancy or getting a sexually transmitted disease," she added.
Dr. Ceperich, of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, and colleagues conducted a focus group study with a total of 22 women, recruited from two urban health centers, to examine the role that trust plays in women's decisions not to use birth control.
The researchers held 90-minute discussions with groups of two to eight women. The participants were mostly non-married women who ranged from 18 to 45 years old, and were not sterilized or pregnant. Eighty-two percent were African American and 18% were white.
Most of the participants said that women with low self-esteem do not question their partner on birth control, Dr. Ceperich said. Other common responses indicated that women trust their partners to "be there" by marrying them or providing financial support should pregnancy occur or trust the man to withdraw. One woman said, "I trusted he would not or could not get me pregnant."
A smaller group of participants indicated that there is "peer pressure to keep the guy so you trust what he says," Dr. Ceperich noted.
She said the findings "need further exploration to determine if this is a widespread phenomenon across differing populations."
Dr. Ceperich pointed out that the majority of the participants thought birth control meant pills, not the wide range of contraceptive options currently available. She also said that question-and-answer sessions with a gynecologist revealed "a high level of misconception and a low level of information [regarding contraception] among participants." She added that the group was very interested in gaining more information on contraceptives from the gynecologist.