They don’t want a baby. They don’t want an STI. But they don’t want to use contraception…
One young woman says she stopped taking contraception altogether because she “felt weird taking the pill for so long”.
Another says she doesn’t use any birth control at all because she “feels” she’s infertile — even though she’s just 23, and no doctor has told her that.
Others still claim they fear the “unnatural devices or chemicals” in some contraceptives, or that latex irritates their skin, or that the “pull-out-and-pray method” has been working just fine so far… so it must be alright.
These are not women without options. These are not women in a developing country. These are the candid online admissions of real-life women who regularly have unprotected sex.
In Australia, a staggering one-third of fertile women aged 18-44 don’t use contraception, according to one 2011 survey.* Once women actively planning a pregnancy or currently pregnant are factored in, around 17 percent of Australian women avoid birth control — despite not wanting a baby.
In other words, these women don’t want to get pregnant. But they don’t want to use contraception, either.
Given that at least 85 percent of women will fall pregnant within a year of having unprotected sex, that logic seems baffling. The oral contraceptive pill is often lauded as one of the greatest-ever advances in medical technology: why would you ignore its benefits, or at least consider other widely available options like condoms?
We asked the experts about the reasons behind the phenomenon, and the answers are equally intriguing and scary.
Why do women have unprotected sex, anyway?
“I think it’s probably a bit of everything,” Family Planning NSW Senior Medical Officer Dr Mary Stewart told Mamamia. “Obviously education and knowledge are important. We don’t have enough education around contraceptive methods.”
Reproductive Choice Australia co-president Kate Marsh agreed that some women’s failure to use birth control was down to “myths and misinformation”.
“For example, it is still widely thought that IUDs are only suitable for women who have given birth, whereas in fact anyone can use one,” she said.
Research supports a correlation between Australian women’s lower education levels and contraceptive use. One study, for example, found 27 percent of women with less than a year-12 education avoided contraception the last time they had vaginal sex.