Survey shows ignorance of contraception

Updated: 2012-09-26 01:56

By Wang Qingyun (China Daily)

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Only 12 percent of 1,000 Chinese women polled said they fully understand contraception, a survey shows.

The online survey, part of World Contraception Day, which falls on Sept 26 every year, polled 1,000 Chinese women aged 20 to 35.

In addition to the small percentage sure of their contraceptive knowledge, Chinese women overrate the efficiency of withdrawal, periodic abstinence and emergency contraceptive pills, the survey indicates.

From 33 percent to 68.4 percent of the women surveyed believed one of those three methods are "effective" or "very effective", yet the failure rate of these are up to 27 percent, according to Wu Shangchun, a researcher with the science and technology institute under the National Population and Family Planning Commission.

"For example, periodic abstinence is unreliable because the time of ovulation can change and eludes prediction, and couples sometimes do not abstain from sex during the abstinence period," she said.

Wu said the survey indicates misunderstandings of contraception popular with Chinese people.

Such misunderstandings are largely rooted in the lack of quality and authoritative sources that are publishing contraceptive knowledge, Wu said.

"Television seldom airs programs on contraception knowledge. Papers and magazines publish relatively more articles. Such information is most available on the Internet. However, the online information varies in quality," she said. "It’s necessary to publish such information through an authoritative channel."

The lack of awareness has brought a high rate of multiple abortions, she said. "About 50 percent of the women getting abortions in China every year have had abortions before."

Zhang Hanxiang, director of the China Population Communication Center, said advocacy is another reason people don’t get full knowledge about contraception.

"The advocacy on contraceptive methods has long been focusing on long-term ones, such as intrauterine devices and tubal ligation, and the use of condoms, so people are less aware of other ways such as using contraceptive pills," he said.

Moreover, Zhang believes teenagers are exposed to high risks of unwanted pregnancy because they mature sexually earlier than previous generations.

"Some of them even rely on emergency contraceptive pills after sex to avoid getting pregnant. Emergency contraceptive pills contain a large amount of progestational hormones, and will cause harm to a woman if used regularly," he said.

"All the contraceptive methods have possible side effects. For example, contraceptive pills may increase the risk of a blood clot forming," said Wu, who suggested people choose the method of contraception according to their own situation.

"For women who have children and do not want to give birth soon, or who have had several abortions before, they can use an intrauterine device," she said. "But for those who don’t have children, they may consider methods such as contraceptive pills."

Zhang suggested teenagers use condoms. Condoms, he said, "don’t have the problem of hormones, and they don’t affect the growth of the bodies".