Researchers did a study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology looking at 4,000 women in St. Louis. These women were surveyed prior to a counseling session regarding their beliefs about the effectiveness of birth control methods.
Researchers found that 45% of women overestimate the effectiveness of pills and condoms; they actually thought they were far more effective than research shows. The failure rate (meaning how often people use them and still get pregnant) for condoms is between 18%-21%, but with the pill it’s about 9% a year.
What we found to be most interesting though, is that in the study, before they counseled the women about effectiveness, only 5% to 6% of the women chose an IUD or hormonal implants but, after they talked about the effectiveness, over 70% chose an IUD or implant. That suggests that there’s bias going on against IUD’s and more effective forms of birth control in favor of less effective means.
We do know that IUD’s are safe, so it may be that some people don’t like the idea of having a procedure and feel more comfortable with pills because that’s what is more commonly used. While the cost of an IUD is higher upfront, when you count how much you spend on birth control pills every month, it turns out to be comparable.
The take-home message is to talk to your doctor about your specific desires for your family planning and if you desire birth control, be sure to ask specifically about the IUD and implantable options, particularly if you want the best effectiveness.