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NEWBURY, Berkshire, Sept. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Women's health experts are warning that old wives' tales and ignorance about modern contraceptive options could be fuelling Britain's high levels of unintended pregnancy, following new research into contraception myths by pollster Opinion Health.(1)

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Fast-foods and store cupboard staples were often suggested as methods of contraception women had heard of(1) Coca-cola, kebabs, chocolate bars or wrappers, crisp packets and chewing gum were proposed as contraceptives and one in five women questioned mentioned a kitchen cupboard staple as a possible option, with eating garlic or using bread, cling film or even chicken skin as a barrier method given as alternatives.(1)

These myths are compounded by a lack of general understanding of even the most popular methods of contraception. The survey revealed that half of women hold the false belief that oral contraceptive use over an extended period of time can cause infertility(1) and nearly 10 percent of women think that it always takes a number of years to regain fertility after discontinuation of The Pill(1) In fact, no matter how long The Pill is taken for, the effects are fully reversible and it is possible to get pregnant straight away in the absence of other forms of contraception.(2)

The survey also highlighted that there is a myth that oestrogen is only present in combined oral contraceptive pills in order to disguise the taste(1) when in fact the combined pill was designed to have the combination of oestrogen and progestogen to offer protection from pregnancy and shorter lighter periods. Surprisingly, those questioned who were using oral contraception often showed a lower level of knowledge about The Pill than those not using it.

These and other myths - ranging from the ridiculous to the concerning - are held by women across all ages, according to the research.

Dr Annie Evans, Women's Health Specialist at the Bristol Sexual Health Centre, commented: "It is not surprising that this survey has uncovered how widespread contraceptive myths still are in this country, given that Britain continues to have the highest unintended pregnancy rate in Europe*,(3) with as many as 50% of births being unintended.(4) It is vital that women are made aware of the facts, using the credible sources of information available to them."

Despite the accurate information available to women online, in the media and from their healthcare professionals, over a third of women mistakenly believe that the greatest risk of getting pregnant whilst using the combined contraceptive pill is to miss a pill in the middle of the pack.(1) The truth is that missing the first and last pills of the pack pose the greatest risk of getting pregnant.(2)

Dr Anne Szarewski, Associate Specialist at the Margaret Pyke Centre commented: "Combined oral contraceptive pills are the most widely prescribed contraceptive option, but they are particularly plagued by myths. Many women are unaware that they even contain oestrogen and progestogen, both of which play different but important roles. It is vital that women of all ages are aware of the facts, to have a full understanding of their contraception and so avoid the distress of an unintended pregnancy."

Other myths exposed by the survey include:

  • One in six women believed that the contraceptive pill is effective as soon as a woman starts taking it (increasing to one in three in the 18-20 age group).(1) Whilst this is closer to the truth than other tales, it is only if the first pill is taken on the first day of the menstrual cycle.
  • Some believe that using combined oral contraceptives will protect them against HIV, when in fact only condoms will protect you against HIV.
  • Some believe that if a woman is not using contraception she is safe from getting pregnant if she only has sex on her period. In fact, there is still the possibility of becoming pregnant during your period if you have sex without using contraception.(5)

The results from this survey also show that, contrary to popular belief, older women believe more myths than younger women. The importance of sex education is also underlined, with those women that have received it showing a better understanding of the facts about contraception, and in particular, about combined oral contraceptives.

The more credible sources of accurate information that there are made available to women, the better chance there is of dispelling these outdated myths. Balanced, factual information about a range of contraceptive options can be found on the comprehensive new website which was recently launched by leading contraception manufacturer Bayer Schering Pharma.

Note to Editors

The survey was conducted online among a representative sample of 1,000 women aged 18-50 years in the UK, during May 2009. It was carried out by Opinion Health, an independent market research company and sponsored by Bayer Schering Pharma

About Bayer Schering Pharma

Bayer Schering Pharma is a worldwide leading specialty pharmaceutical company. Its research and business activities are focused on the following areas: Diagnostic Imaging, General Medicine, Oncology, Specialty Medicine and Women's Healthcare. With innovative products, Bayer Schering Pharma aims for leading positions in specialised markets worldwide. Using new ideas, Bayer Schering Pharma aims to make a contribution to medical progress and strives to improve the quality of patients' lives.

Bayer Schering Pharma's Women's Healthcare portfolio includes a range of medicines to accompany women through important phases of their lives; including oral and non-oral contraceptives as well as specialist gynaecological management products.

Further information can be found at


1. Online survey of 1,000 women undertaken by independent market research company Opinion Health. May 2009.

2. Professor John Guillebaud. Contraception Your Questions Answered. 5th Edition. Churchill Livingstone. 2009.

3. Henshaw S et al. International Family Planning Perspectives 25 Suppl. 1999. pg 6.

4. DH Medical Foundation for AIDS and Sexual Health (FASH). Recommended standards for sexual health services. 2005.

5. NHS Choices. Common Health Questions. Via Accessed 7th August.

*Excluding Eastern Europe


August 2009

SOURCE Bayer Schering Pharma
Copyright©2009 PR Newswire.
All rights reserved

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