According to a new survey of over a thousand women aged 18-27 years, almost one in five had experienced an unintended pregnancy. While just over one third would welcome the event, most women (62%) would find this more stressful than losing their job, losing all their savings or breaking up with their partner.Leading experts say the ongoing issue of unintended pregnancies amongst Australian women highlights the need for more education around contraception choice.
According to Sexologist and Relationship Expert Dr Nikki Goldstein, young women need to make smarter, more informed decisions around their choice of contraception, starting with a better understanding of all options available to them.
The national survey of 1,000 Australian women aged 18-27 years, conducted by Galaxy Research and commissioned by MSD Australia, found the incidence of unintended pregnancy increased with age with one in four women aged 22-27 experiencing an unintended pregnancy compared with only 1 in 20 in women aged 18-21 years. However, the majority of respondents aged 22-27 years were 20 per cent more likely to have used contraception compared to those aged 18-21 years, suggesting a lack of knowledge in effective conceptive options among this age group.
Current priorities and life goals of respondents included buying their own home (71%) and travel (68%). However, whilst many identified starting a family as a future life goal, only 13 per cent wanted to have children in the next three years.
'Understanding your priorities and planning can help as you pursue your goals, and those priorities may or may not include starting or growing a family," said Dr Goldstein.
'As a sexologist, I encourage women to be more informed and to know what form of contraception is best going to suit their lifestyle. That's why I support today's launch of contraceptivematch.com.au which has been designed to help people learn more about what contraception method is right for their personal circumstances," continued Dr Goldstein. Survey participants said that they expected their contraception to provide:
Peace of mind – 77 per cent
Control – 65 per cent
A sense of security – 63 per cent
Reassurance – 60 per cent.
In assessing contraceptive usage, the pill (69%), condoms (66%), and the morning after pill (31%) were the most common forms of contraception used in young women. Just 14 per cent have used a contraceptive implant, 6 per cent a contraceptive injection, 3 per cent an intrauterine device, 1 per cent a contraceptive ring and less than 1 per cent a diaphragm.
Dr Deborah Bateson, Medical Director of Family Planning NSW said, 'condoms and the contraceptive pill remain the most popular contraceptive methods amongst Australian women".
Over half (53%) of women wish they knew more about contraception options available to them and the majority (80%) would like their GP to recommend a contraception option based on their lifestyle.
'Many women don't realise that there are other contraceptive methods available. Women need to be encouraged to have a more open discussion about the contraceptive options available to them during consultations with their GP," continued Dr Bateson.
'Contraception is a very personal decision that women should make with their doctor based on their health, future goals and lifestyle" said Dr Goldstein.
Visit contraceptivematch.com.au to learn more about contraception options, and talk to your GP about your contraceptive options.
The Contraceptive Match website and the Galaxy Research survey was commissioned by MSD Australia.
Question: What surprised you most about the Contraceptive survey commissioned by MSD Australia?
Dr Nikki Goldstein: I was surprised that nearly one in five people aged between 18 and 27 have experienced an unwanted pregnancy. Having a child is a beautiful thing, but we now have the right to choose when we are not ready to become a parent.
Question: Can you share the other findings, with us?
Dr Nikki Goldstein: The nationwide survey of 1,000 Australian women aged 18-27 years found almost one in five had experienced an unintended pregnancy. While just over one third would welcome the event, most women (62%) would find this more stressful than losing their job, losing all their savings or breaking up with their partner. Over half (53%) of women wish they knew more about contraception options available to them and the majority (80%) would like their GP to recommend a contraception option based on their lifestyle.
Question: Why do you believe the unintended pregnancy rate increased as women aged?
Dr Nikki Goldstein: Whilst many of these may not be unwanted, if it does happen at a time in the woman's life when they are not ready to have children it can be very unsettling. Finding out you are pregnant can bring up many different emotions, especially if it was not planned. Every woman will feel different.
Question: How can young women make smarter and more informed decision around their choice of contraception?
Dr Nikki Goldstein: We all have goals and aspirations, and to make sure we meet them, we need to plan ahead. Where do you want to be in three years or five years? Do you want to be finishing your studies or uni degree? Are you planning on travelling? Do you see having a baby in this plan? Considering your choice of contraception to match your goals and lifestyle is important. Nothing is perfect but there may be something that matches your circumstances when it comes to contraception. Make sure you do your research and get the facts and then visit your GP to have a conversation about your choices. A website to start with is contraceptivematch.com.au
Question: Where should embarrassed women go to receive contraception information?
Dr Nikki Goldstein: If someone is embarrassed a way to move past this is to get educated. A great resource is contraceptivematch.com.au. It's also important to have these conversations with a Doctor but there is no reason to be embarrassed. Looking after your own sexual health is something woman should place an importance on and be proud that they are taking control.
Question: What options of contraception should Australian women learn about?
Dr Nikki Goldstein: It's important that Australian women take more control over their sexual health and place more of an importance on getting educated about the various contraceptive options available. Researching options will help empower women to have the knowledge about what is available so they feel comfortable to have the right conversation with their doctors to discuss what is the best contraception for them. As every woman is different, each woman needs to ensure they understand which contraception will match their personal goals and lifestyle.
Question: How can women bring up the contraceptive discussion with their partners?
Dr Nikki Goldstein: There is never a right place or time but making this a calm and casual conversation is always a great start. You might want to bring up an article you saw on line about contraception or even just open the discussion on how they feel about it too. It can be a good idea to go through the information online together. It depends on the type of relationship you have but it can be a good idea to discuss these options with your partner before you go to the Doctor. They might be able to also help you work though the options.
Question: What do you hope to see change with the introduction of the contraceptivematch.com.au website?
Dr Nikki Goldstein: I hope that this website will empower woman to take control over their sexual health and contraception. Starting or growing your family should be on your terms with your partner, so have a plan in place and talk to your doctor about available options that may be right for you.
Visit contraceptivematch.com.au to learn more about your options and find helpful information to take to your GP
Interview by Brooke Hunter