Contraceptive use and unintended pregnancy among 18-23 year old women in Australia : the first findings of the CUPID study

Herbert, Danielle L., Harris, Melissa, Loxton, Deborah, & Lucke, Jayne C. (2013) Contraceptive use and unintended pregnancy among 18-23 year old women in Australia : the first findings of the CUPID study. The European Journal of Contraception and Reproductive Health Care, 18(S1), S78.

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Objectives: Little is known about young adult women's experience of unintended pregnancy in Australia, nor the extent to which ineffective contraceptive use or contraceptive failure may lead to young women becoming pregnant. The CUPID study is the first in Australia to examine young adult Australian women's patterns of contraceptive use, their experience of unintended pregnancy, and their use (or not) of contraception at the time of conception.

Methods: Australian women aged 18-23 years completed an online survey about contraceptive use and experience of unintended pregnancy. They were recruited through a range of methods including advertising on Facebook, and snowball sampling. Sample representativeness was established through comparison with Census data.

Results: Of the 511 respondents, 403 women reported that they had ever had sex and were not currently pregnant. Among these women, the pill was the most common method of contraception used on the most recent occasion, used alone (30%) or with condoms (21%). Condoms (alone or with another method other than the pill) were used by a further 17%, and long-acting contraceptive methods by a further 16%. Other methods such as natural methods or partner vasectomy were used by 16%. The withdrawal method was surprisingly common and was mentioned by 15% of the women overall, usually in combination with another method. There were 63 women who had been pregnant, including 5 who were pregnant at the time of the survey, and of these 55 (87%) had become pregnant by accident. Of these 55 women, 69% reported using a range of contraception methods when they became pregnant by accident: Pill only (29%) and in combination with condoms (3%) and withdrawal (5%); condoms only (18%) and in combination with withdrawal (16%); emergency contraceptive pill only (3%) and in combination with withdrawal (3%) and withdrawal only (24%).

Conclusions: This study highlighted the use of less effective methods of contraception among young Australian women. The withdrawal method was commonly used, often in combination with other methods, particularly before an unintended pregnancy. Among the women who had been pregnant, most reported that their pregnancy had been unintended. A third of the young women who had experienced an unintended pregnancy were using the withdrawal method. Further research is needed about the place of the withdrawal method in the contraceptive practices of young women.

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ID Code: 60155
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 1362-5187
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Public Health & Social Work
Deposited On: 21 May 2013 23:30
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2013 02:42

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