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One of the longstanding arguments against birth control, and for that matter sex ed in general, is the belief it actually encourages more sexual activity.
Now new research has found offering women free contraceptives causes no such increase.
For their study, researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine first crunched data from 9,256 women aged 14 to 45 in the St. Louis area, each at high risk for unintended pregnancy.
As part of an earlier study, the women had been informed of more lasting forms of contraceptives over standard birth control pills or patches, such as an IUD. They were then provided, at no cost, the form of birth control they selected based on their needs.
Additionally, researchers also conducted a new experiment where they surveyed 7,750 women six months before and six months after providing them with free contraceptives.
Subsequent to each clinical visit, they were surveyed on how often they’d had intercourse and with how many partners.
“Seventy percent of the women reported no
change in the frequency of sexual encounters.”
An early result that suggested contraceptives do not cause more sexual activity was a decline noticed among those women with multiple partners.
When the research began, 5.2% of the group indicated having more than one male partner. However, that number dropped to 3.5 after six months and was down to 3.3% after the one-year mark.
Moreover, 70% of the women reported no change in the frequency of sexual encounters both six months and a year after receiving free birth control as part of the study.
About 14% reported a decrease in their sex lives, with only 16% indicating an increase in frequency.
“The notion that women will have sex with more partners if you give them free birth control didn’t pan out in this study,” said Jeffrey Peipert, the study’s senior author, and Robert J. Terry, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology, in a statement. “Providing no-cost contraception did not result in riskier sexual behavior.”
The study was published online in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.
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