Birth Control’s Troubling Myths

Sep 14, 2016

By Olga Khazan

Intrauterine devices and birth-control implants are somewhat miraculous: Once inserted, they protect against pregnancy (but not STDs) for years. No pills, no shots, no problem.

After years of slow uptake, IUDs and implants are finally catching on among American women. In 2013, about 12 percent of women were using these long-acting, reversible contraceptives, or LARCs, compared with just 2.4 percent in 2002. Some studies credit these contraceptives with playing a major role in the reduction of the teen-pregnancy rate.

But a new report from the Urban Institute think-tank suggests that nearly a third of women are significantly misinformed about LARCs. Using a 2016 survey of 798 women of reproductive age, the authors found that fewer women thought that implants, which have a failure rate of about one in 2,000 women, are “very effective” than think that about the pill, which has a failure rate of about nine in 100 women.


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6 comments on “Birth Control’s Troubling Myths

  • Roedy,
    Says the person who didn’t bother to click the link to read more on the source. Literally the next line in the source article is a large table visually displaying this information.



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  • Sadly for David not enough of the text information on actual efficacy of LARCs, say, was visually contrasted with those (mostly false) perceptions.

    Must uptick Roedy, too, for his uncanny, prescient comment.



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  • Yes, it would have been nice to have some actual information in the article beside the table showing what percentage of people don’t have any information or have erroneous information.

    I recall when implants first came out they were visible under the skin of the arm, which is why girls didn’t want them. The social disapproval outweighed the convenience. I don’t know if that’s still the case.



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  • Yes, it would have been nice to have some actual information in the article beside the table showing what percentage of people don’t have any information or have erroneous information.

    But the information is there. Perhaps its graphical nature confused you? Graphs are very often deceptively information dense. Perhaps it was that part of the key to it was written?

    From the article

    the authors found that fewer women thought that implants, which have a failure rate of about one in 2,000 women, are “very effective” than think that about the pill, which has a failure rate of about nine in 100 women.

    Implants are super effective.

    We can see that for implants 37% have good understanding, 63% have poor understanding
    of whom we can say 32% are knowingly ignorant (self confessed don’t knows) and might well seek information if in need, but 31% are wrong or have wrong information and don’t know this and may make wrong choices by not seeking professional help.

    The article links to a fuller version with more tabulated actual performance of all methods. High reliability methods can be interpreted in this way of correct or incorrect understanding. The article’s point is about the misunderstanding of such high efficacy methods.



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