Nearly all women in the United States have used a method of contraception (Guttmacher, 2015). Most commonly, women use condoms or the pill, but an increasing number choose an Intrauterine Device (IUD) or contraceptive implant. Inconsistent use and discontinuation rates are high for all methods. ANSIRH researchers have found that currently available methods do not have all the features that women say are important to them (Lessard, 2012).
Several studies, conducted by ANSIRH’s Director of Research, Diana Greene Foster, in collaboration with researchers from Ibis Reproductive Health, including then Vice President for Research (and now ANSIRH Director) Dan Grossman, sought to examine women’s preferences around contraceptive features and assess interest in novel uses of existing methods that might improve the match between methods and women’s preferences. In 2010 and 2011, ANSIRH administered anonymous surveys in the waiting rooms of six abortion clinics around the country. The survey asked women to rate the importance of numerous contraceptive method features such as effectiveness, ease of use, ability to get it without seeing a clinician.
ANSIRH researchers found that for 91% of women there was no method that had all the features they ranked as “extremely important”. To try to address the gap between what women say they want, and what currently methods offer, the researchers also examined reported interest in new features of existing methods – self-removal of the IUD, over-the-counter access to oral contraceptives and a pericoital birth control pill.
ANSIRH plans to do further work examining how current methods do and don’t meet the needs of women at risk of becoming pregnant and what an ideal method might look like for different groups of women.