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Moral attitudes have a lot to do with contraceptive use

Harold Mandel's picture
Birth control pills

The heat of the moment sometimes leads to risky sexual encounters between consenting adults. The anxieties, which than arise about a possible unwanted pregnancy, than often lead to some regrets about such an encounter when contraception was not used. These tensions have the potential to break down any chances for the development of a sustainable caring relationship between the couple due to accusations flying in each direction that one or the other of the couple was behaving like an adolescent when in fact each person should accept equal responsibility for such a situation when the sexual relationship was consensual. This all leads us to a consideration of how sex education and moral attitudes impact the decision to use or not use contraception.

An understanding of why contraceptives are not used has been vague

The knowledge and attitudes which lead to not using contraception have not been well understood reports the Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health. Researchers decided to investigate whether there is an association between contraceptive use and specific knowledge and attitudinal factors. The researchers conducted an analysis of data from a nationally representative telephone survey of 897 unmarried women aged 18 to 29 years aimed at examining the relationship between contraceptive use and several factors, including:

1: Comprehensive sex education

2: Attitude toward pregnancy prevention

3: Perceived infertility

4: Distrust toward the health care system or contraception

5: Moral attitude toward contraception

Sex education and moral attitudes impact decisions about contraceptive use

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It was found that having ever made a visit to a physician or clinic for women's health care and having ever used any method of contraception to prevent pregnancy were significantly impacted by more comprehensive sex education and less of a likelihood to perceive of contraception as morally wrong. As was seen in other research there was no association found between the desire to avoid pregnancy and contraceptive use. There was association found between health system distrust and contraceptive use even though health system distrust did not predict contraceptive use. It was concluded that contraceptive use among a sample of young women is influenced by previous contraceptive education and moral attitudes dealing with contraception.

Keeping in mind women’s contraceptive use is influenced by previous contraception education and moral attitudes it is clear that family planning is linked to better child and maternal health reports the University of Missouri. About 50 percent of all pregnancies in the United States are not intended. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention unplanned pregnancies have been observed to be associated with poorer health and lower rates of educational and economic achievement for women and their kids.

A desire to avoid pregnancy may not be associated with increased contraceptive use

Research has surprisingly showed that the desire to avoid pregnancy is not necessarily associated with a women’s use of contraceptives. This discrepancy has not been very well understood. University of Missouri researchers have now observed that levels of prior sex education and moral attitudes dealing with contraception influence whether women use contraceptives in order to prevent pregnancy.

Valerie Bader, a clinical instructor in MU’s Sinclair School of Nursing, has said this study showed that women who had more comprehensive sex education were more likely to seek health care and use contraception in comparison to women who received abstinence-only sex education. Comprehensive sex education included information about:

1: Healthy relationships

2: Abstinence from sexual intercourse

3: How to properly use contraceptives

Bader says it was also found that when women believe contraception is morally wrong they were not as likely to visit women’s health clinics or to use contraception in order to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Bader feels overall women need more access to comprehensive contraceptive information so they can make better informed decisions. However, this information can be difficult to obtain because a dialogue about sexuality and contraception is extremely polarized due to varying moral attitudes of people. It should nevertheless be kept in mind that family planning leads to healthier prospects for the mother and her children.

Although it is clear that education is a significant factor in helping women to make more well informed decisions about contraception, it should not be forgotten that widely varying attitudes about the morale issues involved can impact such decisions even among the well educated. Morale attitudes can be defined by very powerful belief systems dealing with one's religious beliefs that may not necessarily find themselves changing due to high powered sex education courses. It therefore appears that although it is wise to encourage good sex education for everyone, proper medical assistance should always be made available for women to help them cope with the outcomes of their decisions regarding contraception regardless of what the reasons behind this are.