Women age 15 to 24 have extremely high rates of unintended pregnancies, and also experience high rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), despite their widespread use of contraceptives. For this reason, family planning advocates have long urged young women to use condoms as well as with other contraceptive methods, because condoms are the only family planning method that also protects against STIs.
In this study, researchers supported by the Population Dynamics Branch assessed the use of condoms combined with other contraceptives among more than 1,000 urban young women. The researchers found that:
- After the start of a hormonal contraception method, condom use decreased and remained relatively unchanged from there on, although about one-quarter of the women reported using condoms alongside other contraceptive methods.
- Women who were initially condom users were nearly twice as likely to continue using condoms along with a pill, patch or other method, compared with women who were not initially condom users.
- About one-half the women who stopped using a condom when they started another family planning method went back to condom use if they stopped the other method.
- Women who believed their main partner thought condoms were very important were more likely to use both condoms and other contraception.
The study results suggest that providers may wish to emphasize use of dual protection, and that providing couple-centered counseling may be helpful (PMID: 23260838).