Well Being

Emergency Contraception Is Really, Really Popular (And IUDs Aren’t)

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shutterstock_108076982Use of emergency contraception has more than doubled recently, the New York Times reports. New federal data shows that between 2006 and 2010, 11% of sexually active women used the so-called “morning after pill,” up from 4% in 2002. And among early-twenty-somethings, almost 25% having used morning-after pills at some point.

It's great that so many women are taking advantage of this awesome way to prevent pregnancy post-sex. But you can bet that not everyone thinks so; a significant number of people still seem to confuse morning-after pills like Plan B with the abortion pill mifepristone.

That's the gist of religious and socially conservative companies' objections to covering the pill in employee health plans, which they're now required to do under the new health care law. They argue that Plan B and its ilk interfere with implantation of an already fertilized egg.

But “medical experts say that portrayal is inaccurate,” according to the Times. Studies “provide strong evidence that the most commonly used pills do not hinder implantation, but work by delaying or preventing ovulation so that an egg is never fertilized in the first place, or thicken cervical mucus so sperm have trouble moving.”

The data on emergency contraception comes from the National Center for Health Statistics. Researchers interviewed more than 12,000 American women between the ages of 15 and 44 about their sexual activity and birth control use. Overall, 99% of sexually active women have used birth control at some point in their lives, they found. And about 93% said their partners used condoms.

White women were most likely to use birth control pills (89%), followed by black women (78%), Hispanic women (67%) and Asian women (57%). And despite the Catholic Church's very vocal anti-contraception stances, 98.6% of sexually active Catholic women said they had used contraception at some point.

The report also found that use of IUDs declined, with just 8% of women having used one at some point, down from 10% in 1995.

And education level was a major factor in the type of contraception used: 40% of women without a high school diploma chose sterilization, compared to just 10% of women with a bachelor's degree. Women with less education were also more likely to use Depo-Provera, the hormonal birth control shot (36%, compared with 13% of college-educated women). Women with a master's degree or higher were more likely to use “natural family planning,” with 28% saying they've based sexual habits around their menstrual cycle, compared to 13% of those without a high school diploma.