Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[Report] Sex, contraception, or abortion? Class gaps in unintended childbearing | Brookings Institution

Sex, contraception, or abortion? Class gaps in unintended childbearing | Brookings Institution.

Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 5.32.41 AM

From the report

A poor woman is about five times as likely as an affluent woman to have an unintended birth, which further deepens the divides in income, family stability, and child outcomes. But what is behind the gap? That is the question we address in our new paper, Sex, Contraception, or Abortion? Explaining Class Gaps in Unintended Childbearing, and in this data interactive.”

March 7, 2015 Posted by | Public Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

[News article] Proof Birth Control Access Is A Very, Very Big Deal To Women

Proof Birth Control Access Is A Very, Very Big Deal To Women.

Image of vaginal birth control device NuvaRing

Image of vaginal birth control device NuvaRing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the 7 July 2014 Huffington Post article

On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations cannot be required to provide their employees with coverage for contraception, a decision that medical groups like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists — this country’s leading group of professionals providing health care to women — have called “profoundly” disappointing.

“This decision inappropriately allows employers to interfere in women’s health care decisions,” the group said in a statement.

“Contraceptives are essential health care for women and should not be treated differently than other, equally important parts of comprehensive care for women, including well-woman visits, preconception care visits, cervical and breast cancer screenings and other needed health care services,” ACOG added.

Because that’s the thing about birth control. For many women across the United States, of all different religious, political and socioeconomic backgrounds, it’s an absolutely essential part of how they stay healthy. From pain management and menstrual cycle regulation to straight-up family planning, here are just some of the ways that birth control has been a very, very good thing in the lives of real women.

 

July 8, 2014 Posted by | health care | , | Leave a comment

[Press release] A Year of Magical Thinking Leads to… Unintended Pregnancy

On a personal note. Back in 1972 the religion classes for juniors and seniors at my high school were composed of electives. I took the marriage class. One week was spent on contraceptives. The material on the different types was fact based.  Since it was a Catholic school abstinence was emphasized! Still, I was a bit taken aback that we were given all the facts in order to make our own decisions.  Didn’t tell my parents about this! But the week’s focus on contraception did reinforce what we were taught at home – responsibilities for our actions.
On a somewhat related note – my heart goes out to all who are sexually abused and feel that a sexual relationship (and/or a relationship that is disproportionally  based on the needs of others) is the only way out of a bad (often home) environment.

From the 28 November Guttmacher Institute press release

Qualitative Study Explores Women’s Perceptions of Pregnancy Risk

In-depth interviews with 49 women obtaining abortions in the United States found that most of the study participants perceived themselves to be at low risk of becoming pregnant at the time that it happened. According to “Perceptions of Susceptibility to Pregnancy Among U.S. Women Obtaining Abortions,” by Lori Frohwirth of the Guttmacher Institute et al., the most common reasons women gave for thinking they were at low risk of pregnancy included a perception of invulnerability, a belief that they were infertile, self-described inattention to the possibility of pregnancy and a belief that they were protected by their (often incorrect) use of a contraceptive method. Most participants gave more than one response.

The most common reason women gave for their perceived low risk of pregnancy was perceived invulnerability to pregnancy. Study participants understood that pregnancy could happen, but for reasons they couldn’t explain, thought they were immune or safe from pregnancy at the time they engaged in unprotected sex. One reported that she “always had good luck,” while another said, “…It’s like you believe something so much, like ‘I just really don’t want children,’ [and] for some reason, I thought that would prevent me from getting pregnant.” This type of magical thinking—that pregnancy somehow would not happen despite acknowledged exposure—suggests a disconnect between the actual risk of pregnancy incurred by an average couple who does not use contraceptives (85% risk of pregnancy over the course of a year) and a woman’s efforts to protect herself from unintended pregnancy.

Equal proportions (one-third) of respondents thought they or their partners were sterile, said the possibility of pregnancy “never crossed my mind” and reported that (often incorrect) contraceptive use was the reason they thought they were at low risk. Perceptions of infertility were not based on medical advice, but rather on past experiences (e.g., the respondent had unprotected sex and didn’t get pregnant) or family history. Among those who thought they were protected by their contraceptive method, most women reported inconsistent or incorrect method use. For example, one woman felt a few missed pills did not put her at risk: “I just thought…they were like magic. If I missed it one day, it wouldn’t really matter.”

The authors suggest that further research is needed to quantify the proportion of women at risk of pregnancy who believe they are not at risk, and reasons why they hold that belief, in order to better address misconceptions around pregnancy risk with the goal of preventing unintended pregnancy. Additionally, they suggest that health care providers should seek to better understand patients’ beliefs regarding their ability to get pregnant and the efficacy of contraception so as to address these topics, and that public health campaigns should dispel myths, address magical thinking, and call attention to the general problem of low health literacy.

Perceptions of Susceptibility to Pregnancy Among U.S. Women Obtaining Abortions” is currently available online and will appear in a forthcoming issue of Social Science & Medicine.

 

November 22, 2013 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , | Leave a comment

[Brookings Institute report] Isabel V. Sawhill and Quentin Karpilow – Three Facts about Birth Control and Social Mobility

From the 1 November 2013 report

An NGO health worker holds contraceptive pills during a family planning session with housewives availing free pills in Tondo, Manila (REUTERS/Erik De Castro).

The ability to control our fertility, to have children when—and with whom—we want, is a precious gift of modern science. For women in particular, birth control has also been a boost for social mobility. But there is still progress to be made.

1. The Pill Transformed Women’s Life Chances

The Pill gave American women something genuinely new: a convenient and highly effective means of controlling their own fertility. Although the Pill was licensed by the by the FDA (as Enovid) in 1960, state and federal laws limited the access of young single women to oral contraception. But as those laws changed in the late 60s and early 70s, oral contraceptive use jumped among young single women. And look what happened to the gender mix of professional college courses:Goldin and Katz graph showing first year female professional students as a fraction of first year students

Of course this could be coincidence. But the best researchers in the field don’t think so. Using sophisticated research designs, that isolate the causal effects of the Pill, scholars have shown that the diffusion of the Pill raised women’s college attendance and graduation rates (Hock, 2007), increased the representation of women in professional occupations (Goldin and Katz, 2002), and boosted female earnings (Bailey et al., 2012).

2. Unintended Pregnancies Still Too Common

But unintended pregnancy rates – 3 million or more a year – remain stubbornly high in the U.S. The benefits of birth control are being only partially realized. Half of all pregnancies are mistimed or unwanted – and 95 percent of all unintended pregnancies occur among women who either aren’t using contraception at all or aren’t using their contraceptive method consistently:

Pie chart of 2001 Unintended pregnancies by consistency of contraception method used in month of conception

It is time for a new revolution in family planning, with even better contraception than the pill. Long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) such as intra-uterine devices (IUDs) have a big role to play in solving America’s contraception deficit. Because these highly effective methods don’t require the daily maintenance that the Pill does, LARCs could potentially eliminate the problems of inconsistent use, as a study conducted in St Louis suggests.

3. Most Disadvantaged Need More To Lose

Early, unwed pregnancy rates are highest in the most disadvantaged communities. Recent research suggests that for those with starkly limited opportunities, better family planning may do little to improve their life trajectories. The impact of better contraception for this cohort is small for the depressing reason that they have so little to lose in the first place. These women need better family planning, but they also need better educational and work opportunities. In short, they need more to lose.

Earlier this week, I talked about these issues at an event sponsored by AEI and the Institute of Family Studies. In tomorrow’s blog post, I’ll set out the gains we could realize from getting better at birth control.

November 1, 2013 Posted by | Consumer Health, Public Health | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Recent news articles on birth control, Kudzu, and a new blood thinner (How do they rate?)

From HealthNewsReview.org***

How well did these stories address our 10 criteria?   

From an earlier post

HealthNewsReview.org – Independent Expert Reviews of News Stories

Health News Review includes reviews of health articles in the news.Their objective criteria includes these factors…

The Web site also includes a toolkit – “a number of tipsheets, primers, links and other resources to help journalists and consumers do a better job of evaluating claims about health care interventions”

May 30, 2012 Posted by | Consumer Health | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Population Action International – Videos and more on contraception and related topics

From the About Page of Population Action International

Population Action International advocates for women and families to have access to contraception in order to improve their health, reduce poverty and protect their environment. Our research and advocacy strengthen U.S. and international assistance for family planning. We work with local and national leaders in developing countries to improve their reproductive health care programs and policies. PAI shows how these programs are critical to global concerns, such as preventing HIV, combating the effects of environmental degradation and climate change, and strengthening national security.

Current topics include Climate Change, Contraceptives and Condoms, Environment, Family Planning, Population Trends and Demography, and Security and Governance.

Each topic has resources in at least several of  these publication types

  • Publications
  • Blog posts
  • News
  • Policy and Issue Briefs
  • Reports
  • Advocacy Guides
  • Videos
  • Articles
  • Data and Maps
English: Picture Of Ortho Tri-Cyclen oral cont...

Image via Wikipedia

February 13, 2012 Posted by | environmental health, Public Health | , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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