According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, an overwhelming 53 per cent of unplanned pregnancies occur in women who are using contraceptives.
Of these unplanned pregnancies caused by contraceptive failures, more than 75 per cent occur in women who are 20 years or older – not in teenagers.
While it is astonishing and worrying that contraceptives could fail among so many women, research has shown that some of the pregnancies occur as a result of negligence on the part of the women. But what could these women have done that produced these results?
Using contraceptives inconsistently or incorrectly
It is probably the most obvious reason. If you forget to use a condom or diaphragm or any other barrier method during sex, your chances of getting pregnant are high. But while forgetting is the crime of some victims of unplanned pregnancies, ignorance can be another cause. Barrier methods must be used every time a couple has sex. Yes, every time.
If you forget to take the pill, you are likely to get pregnant. If this happens to you, the only way to raise your chances of to prevent pregnancy in that cycle is to double up with another contraceptive method such as a condom.
Still, condoms burst due to incorrect use. This includes using a condom with a water-based lubricant, using an expired condom and storing it or handling a condom incorrectly. Condoms are delicate and they can be torn by fingernails, keys, jewellery or teeth. Your best bet while using a condom is to combine its use with a vaginal spermicide just in case it tears.
- READ MORE
- 1. Emotional abuse: The most common form of abuse against women
- 2. Police establish new unit to handle sexual abuse and gender-based violence cases
- 3. Sexually transmitted infections can wreak havoc on reproduction
- 4. Bad bachelor: How do I get out of this sexagenarian entrapment?
Taking certain drugs or herbal remedies
If you’re on a hormonal birth control method, especially the oral pill, always tell your doctor about it when he or she is prescribing medicine. Just to be sure, mention this to your pharmacist and read the leaflet that comes with your medicine to see if there is some information about drug interactions.
The contraceptive does not suit you
In a 2003 study done in France, two-thirds of women who had unplanned pregnancies reported using contraceptives, with one in five users taking the pill and one in 10 using intrauterine devices (IUDs).
Lead investigator Nathalie Bajos, PhD, concluded that the research showed most clearly that there is often a mismatch between a woman’s contraceptive needs and the methods they use.
“It is absolutely essential to differentiate between what are the theoretically most effective methods of contraception and what is the most practical method for a particular woman at a particular time in a particular relationship,” she said.
When the findings of this study were published by WebMD, UK reproductive health advocate Melissa Dear recommended that healthcare professionals needed to be better trained to give women information about all of their choices and help them identify which ones will work best for them.
The contraceptive fails
Few studies can claim to prove the failure of the oral or injectable contraceptive because of the high chances of human error. However, with the methods that are more trackable such as IUDs, touted as the most effective reversible methods, failures are easier to track.
If the IUD drops into the cervix, for example or it is expelled from the uterus altogether, pregnancy is likely to occur. It is the reason manufacturers recommend that you check once a month that the IUD string is hanging from the cervix into the vaginal opening.