|Controversy around withdrawal, young women's sexual health in Nigeria, and other recent research|
By Emily Bridges, Director of Public Information Services
Does Withdrawal Deserve Another Look?
Researcher Rachel K. Jones, in a study published in the journal Contraception, found that withdrawal is only slightly less effective than the male condom at preventing pregnancy.
To Jones’s surprise, her article was met with skepticism and even anger from public health and activism communities concerned about the promotion of withdrawal.
Advocates for Youth believes young people deserve the facts about withdrawal’s benefits and disadvantages. Among typical heterosexual couples who initiate use of withdrawal, about 18 percent of women will experience an accidental pregnancy in the first year, compared to 85 percent of couples who use no method. Withdrawal does not offer protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV. Withdrawal is most effective when used with another method, such as a condom.
As the author of the study writes: “While some women may not be comfortable depending on their partners to pull out before ejaculating, and some men may not be able to do it, that does not mean we should promote a false view of the method's effectiveness.” Withdrawal is one more “tool in the toolbox” for preventing unwanted pregnancy, HIV, and STIs. As with any topic in sexual health, young people deserve complete, accurate information about it.
Read “Better than Nothing or Savvy Risk Reduction Practice?”
A new report from the Guttmacher Institute shows that the unintended birth rate is rising in Nigeria; and that the percentage of young women who know where to obtain family planning services has dropped from 32 percent in 1990 to 18 percent in 2003. Early marriage is still common, with one third of the country’s 15-19 year old women being married. The report urged funding for culturally competent, holistic programs that support young women’s education and development and meet the “ominously high” need for modern contraception.
A Report on New York City’s Condom Availability Project
In the last four years New York City has conducted a massive condom availability project in which condoms are distributed free of charge to organizations. The project lists where the public can get free condoms on its website and promotes their availability on its website and Facebook page. A recent journal article in Public Health Reports described the first two years of the project, finding that from 2005-2006, 23 million condoms were distributed. 2006 saw vastly higher distribution rates with the introduction of the online ordering system. Gay bars were found to be underserved by the free condom initiative, and the authors resolved to increase efforts to reach gay bars in the upcoming years of the project.
What are Medical Students Being Taught about Sexual and Reproductive Health?
Researchers surveyed second and third-year medical students to see what their programs were teaching about topics in sexual and reproductive health. The vast majority of students who responded had learned about pregnancy (97 percent), at least one method of contraception (96 percent, with much of course time devoted to oral hormonal contraceptive pills), and infertility (83 percent) as requirements of their programs. But only 58 percent were required to learn about types of abortion (and in a few cases, only were taught about the ethics of abortion). GLBTQ health issues were included in 44 percent of schools. Researchers found that schools in the regional U.S. south were less likely to address contraception and abortion topics.
Researchers urge that more in-depth information about contraception, abortion, and GLBTQ health issues be included in medical education programs, and that advocates work for a standardized reproductive and sexual health program that includes this information.
Read the abstract.
A study led by Eleanor Bimla Schwarz of the University of Pittsburgh examined the interest in same-day intrauterine device insertion among women seeking emergency contraception and walk-in pregnancy testing at family planning clinics. Of the 412 women surveyed, 12 percent said they would be interested in same-day insertion, and 22 percent said they wanted additional information on IUDs, although most participants said they knew little about the device. The researchers noted that women seeking EC and walk-in pregnancy testing are at particularly high risk of unintended pregnancy and that insertion of a copper IUD can provide a highly effective method of EC, in addition to effective ongoing pregnancy prevention. The researchers suggested that same-day insertion could be an effective method for increasing the use of highly effective contraception among this population of women.