Study Finds Pregnancy Coercion Rate of Over 25% in Population of North Carolina Women

   Reproductive control -- pregnancy coercion and birth control sabotage -- is thought may contribute to the rate of unintended pregnancy.  According to the results of a study presented at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ 59th Annual Clinical Meeting in Washington, D.C., pregnancy coercion occurs in over one quarter of the patient population in western North Carolina.

   Jennifer E. Warren, MD, and Shelley L. Galvin, MA, of the Mountain Area Health Education Center in Asheville, administered a survey consisting of 63 yes/no questions to reproductive age, English-speaking women when they presented for routine gynecologic visits. The surveys were administered by RNs if the patient was alone and counseling services were available. The researchers’ objectives were to investigate reproductive control rates in their area and to determine if certain types of birth control were more easily hidden from partners.

   According to the most recent data from the ongoing study, 119 of 242 eligible surveys had been completed, a response rate of 49.2%. The majority of patients were 19 to 30 years of age, single, and Caucasian. Fifty-three women (46%) reported at least one unwanted pregnancy and 28 (25.7%) reported pregnancy coercion (95% confidence interval [CI], 18.1 to 33.3). (Previously published research by other investigators found a coercion rate of 19%.) Forty-seven (41.6%, [CI, 32 to 50]) reported birth control sabotage. However, only 11.7% (CI, 5.4 to 18) reported sabotage with a birth control method that only women could control. No sabotage was reported with IUDs, implants, or injectable forms of birth control.