Understanding how women's preferences for certain attributes of contraceptive methods relate to their method choice can inform the content of contraceptive counseling.
Data from 715 women aged 18–29 who had ever used contraceptives were drawn from the 2009 National Survey of Reproductive and Contraceptive Knowledge. Chi-square tests and multivariable logistic regression analyses were used to examine how women's preferences for specific contraceptive attributes were related to their social and demographic characteristics and their current contraceptive choice.
The majority of women considered it extremely important for a method to be very effective at preventing pregnancy (79%) and to be effective at preventing HIV and STDs (67%); fewer than one-quarter felt similarly about a method's being hormone-free (22%). Women who felt it was quite or extremely important for a method to be very effective at preventing pregnancy were not more likely to use the most effective methods than were women who considered this attribute not at all or only slightly important. Women who considered it quite or extremely important for a method to be hormone-free were less likely than others to use hormonal methods (odds ratio, 0.4), and women who considered STD protection quite or extremely important had elevated odds of relying on condoms alone, rather than on an effective contraceptive method alone (3.6).
Most women desire a very effective method for pregnancy prevention, but it is unclear how this translates to their contraceptive use. The associations between women's preferred contraceptive attributes and method choice warrant further attention.