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Women ignoring government contraception advice

Young women continue to prefer using the oral contraceptive pill, despite government efforts to increase the use of long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), suggests a UK study.

In-depth interviews with 20 young women from the east coast of Scotland found that most used condoms at first, when they started to have sex, but then moved on to the pill.

They were aware of long-acting methods, but had been put off by friends’ negative experiences of such methods and the expectation of changes in their bleeding patterns, or weight gain.

‘Pill use can be unproblematic if managed well and should continue to be promoted as a suitable contraceptive for young women. They could be given more advice and help to remember their pills, perhaps using things like mobile phone alerts,’ said study author Dr Lisa Williamson, from the Medical Research Council’s social and public health sciences unit in Glasgow.

‘Long-acting methods could offer an alternative to women struggling with the pill but efforts to promote LARC have to recognise and address young women’s possible distrust and dislike of these,’ she added.

LARCs are currently being actively promoted by the Department of Health. NICE guidance published in 2005 recommended that LARCs should be offered to all women as part of their contraceptive choices.

Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Health Care (2009) 35: 167-172

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