Birth Control Pill The Most Accepted Form Of Contraception Among Majority Of Parents
Alan McStravick for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
Parental acceptability is an important factor in birth control method selection for their teenage daughters. A new study, published in this month’s issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health sought to examine parental acceptability of different forms of contraception and to explore the factors and motives that influenced the attitudes of the parents.
According to the study, parents are far more accepting of their young daughters using the birth control pill than in the utilization of any other form of contraception. This bias extended even to the use of condoms.
Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) determined that of the most effective contraceptive methods, the implant and the IUD were only acceptable to a small minority of parents. The implant is a matchstick-sized rod that is inserted in the arm. The IUD is a small device that is implanted into the uterus.
The random sample of parents yielded 261 parents or guardians who were taking care of a daughter between the ages of 12 and 17. These subjects were recruited from a clinical database from San Francisco General Hospital and five Kaiser Northern California clinics where their daughters had been patients.
Several of the key factors the study took into account were items like the parents’ perceptions of their daughters’ likelihood to have sex, their parenting beliefs, the parents’ sexual health during their teen years, and their knowledge of sexually transmitted infections. Once this information had been collected, the research team was able to view the influence of these factors on the parents’ acceptability of seven different contraceptive methods. The question asked of the parents’ was: “If your teen’s doctor found out your daughter was having sex, is it acceptable or unacceptable to you for the doctor to provide the following methods to your teen confidentially?”
A full 59 percent of respondents presented a high acceptability for oral birth control pills. This was followed by the 51 percent who found condoms also acceptable. Injectable contraception finished a respectable 3rd among 46 percent of the parents. Just behind that, at 45 percent, is emergency contraception. Transdermal patches and implants both experienced a significant drop in acceptability, coming in at 42 percent and 32 percent, respectively. The IUD had a pitiful acceptability, finding support only among 18 percent of the respondents.
Among the parents who expressed a perception their teenage daughter was likely to have sex was a high acceptability of utilizing condoms only with emergency contraception available as a back-up. There was a diminished interest in the full array of contraception options available. It was also determined parents who regularly attended religious services were typically less accepting of emergency contraception.
“Considering the fact that condoms are our only method that protects these teenagers from sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy, and because the condom seems less invasive than other forms of contraception, we were surprised they weren’t accepted by a larger percentage,” said Lauren Hartman, MD, a clinical fellow in the UCSF Department of Pediatrics and lead author of the study.
The IUD, among contraceptive methods, is the “first-line recommendation for teenagers by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Despite this full-throated endorsement the IUD still remains an unappealing option for parents. The IUD is implanted in the uterus where it releases small amounts of either copper or progesterone. Both copper and progesterone are effective in the prevention of pregnancy.”
“IUD acceptance is pretty congruent with what we see in our clinics,” said Hartman. “They are safe and almost 100 percent effective at preventing pregnancy, so you would think it’s an obvious method for people. But there are a lot of myths that they cause infection and infertility that remain from the old IUDs of the 1970s which may be influencing parents’ perceptions.”
The team recognizes their study only begins to understand the myriad of situations that might influence a parent’s acceptance of a particular contraceptive method. Only one observed predictor typically yielded the same results each time. This predictor was the recognition of their teen’s autonomy. “Clinicians can play an important role in supporting adolescents transition into adulthood, which involves supporting them in taking greater responsibility in making decisions about their own health,” Hartman said.
“Confidential time between the adolescent and clinician supports this transition as well as ensures that adolescents have access to needed services. Parents are also integral to their adolescents’ health and their support of their teen’s access to confidential health services is an important part of the health partnership,” she said.