Only Half Of All Women Are Satisfied With Their Birth Control Method, & It Affects How They’ll Use It


After President Donald Trump delivered a massive blow to no-copay birth control late last week by rolling back an Obama-era mandate that required employers to cover birth control for their employees, we're all talking about contraceptives. People are being urged to call their elected representatives and donate to reproductive rights organizations. There's even a smartphone app offering free birth control to protest the ruling. Most Americans agree that birth control should be provided through employer insurance plans, and only 4 percent of people think birth control is morally wrong. But as the battle rages on about access to birth control, another question arises: Are the options available to people satisfactory? A new study found that men and women are pretty unsatisfied with their contraceptive choices, and that has big implications for whether or not they'll use it.

Dr. Ed, a UK-based online doctor service, surveyed 1,000 Americans and Europeans about their experiences with birth control. The research covers things like the side effects people experience and whether cisgender men would get pregnant to take away the pain from their partners (spoiler alert: only one in four men said they would). But when it came to satisfaction with contraceptive methods, no birth control method came anywhere near 100 percent satisfaction — and that's a really big deal.

IUDs Are The Most Satisfying Form Of Birth Control, But More Than 20 Percent Of Women Aren't Happy With Them

Even A-list celebrities have proclaimed their love for intrauterine devices, commonly called IUDs. It's been named the most effective form of birth control by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. If you get an IUD, you'll have a few moments of discomfort during insertion, but then be protected from unwanted pregnancy for three to 10 years, depending on which IUD you opt for.

It sounds pretty perfect, but there are downsides. If you're unlucky, the tiny device can perforate your uterus. (I know.) Some men also report feeling IUD strings during sex which can be a little bit unexpected. According to this study’s findings, 78 percent of women and 67 percent of men are satisfied with IUDs. But that means nearly one in three men aren’t fans of the device, and a little more than one in five women aren't down with it, either. And that's for the device people are most happy with.

The Birth Control Patch Is The Least Satisfying Form Of Birth Control

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A 2012 study found that of the women who use birth control, less than 1 percent use the birth control patch. It's more effective than many forms of birth control with a 99 percent success rate, but you have to wear a patch that releases hormones into your body to help prevent pregnancy and change it weekly. It has many of the same side effects as the birth control pill, but 69 percent of women and 75 percent of men said they aren't fans of the patch. It can cause skin irritation, which could be one reason for dissatisfaction, or users could be uncomfortable with the patch being visible. Either way, the combined studies show that people don't like it, and they don't use it.

More Than Half Of People Who Are Abstinent Are Unhappy With Their Decision

By 21 years old, a majority of men and women are sexually active. Still, some people choose to abstain from sex for religious or health reasons. One pro-abstinence group claims that only 3 percent of Americans wait until marriage for sexual intercourse.

So what's the sentiment among those who use abstinence as their primary birth control method? About 49 percent of women are happy being abstinent, while 42 percent of men report the same satisfaction. Waiting until marriage for sex can lead to low self-esteem, sexual frustration, and fear of intimacy, according to sex experts.

This study shows there's no perfect method of birth control. Scientists are still working on a male birth control pill, and over-the-counter pills might soon be a reality for women, which is sure to reduce frustration with getting a prescription. Regardless of which method of birth control you choose, you have the right to be satisfied in using it — it's an important aspect of access that seldom gets noticed, and has huge ramifications for birth control use as a whole.