New study estimates contraceptive failure rates

VaccineResearchers have found in a most comprehensive study to date of contraceptive failure rates in the developing world that overall, letdown figures are lowest for users of longer-acting contraceptive methods such as IUDs, implants or injectables.

The study recorded intermediate for users of shorter-acting methods such as oral contraceptive pills or male condoms and highest for users of traditional methods like withdrawal or calendar rhythm.

The report: “Contraceptive Failure Rates in the Developing World: An Analysis of Demographic and Health Survey Data in 43 Countries,” by Chelsea Polis of the Guttmacher Institute and colleagues, expands on previous research on failure rates by contraceptive method.

Using Demographic and Health Surveys from 43 countries, the researchers estimated failure rates among sexually active women of reproductive age for seven contraceptive methods of more than 12- 24- and 36-month intervals.

The data cover 17 countries in Africa, 16 in Asia, two in Eastern Europe and eight in Latin America and the Caribbean and made available the Ghana News Agency.

Polis, senior research scientists and the study’s lead author said: “Of the 74 million unintended pregnancies each year in the developing world, a significant proportion, 30 per cent, are due to contraceptive failure among women using traditional or modern methods.”

“Our findings on contraceptive failure rates can inform strategies to improve the provision of contraceptive services, focusing efforts where they are most needed, and helping women and couples to correctly and consistently use the methods best suited to their needs.”

In addition to estimating method-specific failure rates, the researchers estimated the contraceptive prevalence and the method mix for each country and the seven sub-regions in the analysis, information that is critical in determining the type of policies and programmes needed to reduce contraceptive failure rates.

It found that while the Northern Africa/Western Asia sub-region has relatively high contraceptive prevalence, a significant proportion of users rely on less effective traditional methods.

By contrast, in Western Africa, contraceptive prevalence is relatively low, but the majority of users rely on modern methods.

In considering contraceptive failure rates among various demographic and socioeconomic populations, the authors found that women younger than 25 generally have higher contraceptive failure rates than their older counterparts.

It said this finding holds true for all contraceptive methods except the implant, for which the failure rate did not vary by age.

Moreover it indicated, the authors suggest that family planning programmes and providers need to expand the availability of youth-friendly counseling and services to ensure that young women could successfully use their chosen contraceptive method.

The researchers propose that efforts to improve correct and consistent use of contraceptives among current users, should go hand-in-hand with programmes to inform non-users interested in using modern contraceptives and assist them in adopting a method that works in their personal circumstances.

It recommend that service providers make available a wide range of contraceptive methods so that women and couples could choose the most effective method with which they would be satisfied, and also emphasise that services must include comprehensive counselling and clear information about the risks and benefits, including possible side effects, of each method.

The study’s authors hope the findings would inform family planning programmes and services across the developing world and help focus attention on geographic sub-regions and subgroups of women that experience particularly high failure rates.

The study was funded by UK Aid from the UK government; however, the views expressed do not necessarily reflect the UK government’s official policy.

Source: GNA

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