It is estimated that nearly half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended. Contraceptive failure is believed to account for a substantial portion of unintended pregnancy. A new study has found that long-acting reversible methods like intrauterine device, or IUD, and implant are more effective than short-term contraceptive methods, such as birth-control pills, contraceptive patch or vaginal ring.
The study, conducted by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, enrolled more than 7,500 women in the age group of 14-45 and at high risk of unintended pregnancy. IUD, implant, birth-control pills, patch, ring and contraceptive injection were the birth-control methods that were evaluated in the study.
According to the researchers, the risk of unintended pregnancy is 20 times greater in women who use birth-control pills, patch or vaginal ring than those who use IUD or implant. The study also found that women under the age of 21 who used birth-control pills, patch or ring are twice likely to have an unintended pregnancy than older women.
There were 334 unintended pregnancies over the three-year study period, and of these, 156 pregnancies were due to contraceptive failure. The contraceptive failure rate among women using pills, patch or ring was 4.55 percent compared with just 0.27 percent among women using IUDs and implants.
Despite being effective - with very low failure rates as less than 1 percent, and proven safe in women and adolescents, only 5.5 percent of American women who use contraception choose IUDs as their method of birth control, say the researchers.
The results of the study are reported May 24 in the New England Journal of Medicine.
by RTT Staff Writer
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