Australia Turns to CUPID to Combat Unintended Pregnancy

With a little help from CUPID, Australian researchers are hoping to discover what young women know, think and do about guarding their wellbeing against unintended pregnancy. Scientists from The University of Queensland and The University of Newcastle are conducting a national survey – known as the Contraceptive Use, Pregnancy Intention and Decisions (CUPID) study – to combat unintended pregnancy, which accounts for half of all pregnancies in Australia.

According to study leader Jayne Lucke, an Associate Professor from UQ’s Centre for Clinical Research, ‘The CUPID study investigates unintended pregnancy and access to contraception among Australian women aged 18- to 23-years through a short web-based survey. We are examining what young women know, think and do about avoiding unintended pregnancy and the differences women face in rural and urban areas of Australia when accessing contraception, advice and information.’

Associate Professor Lucke cited early findings from about 400 young women, which suggested using and accessing contraception means a variety of experiences for different women – and their sexual health. ‘The contraceptive pill and condoms appear to be the most common methods of contraception, with young women less likely to use more effective, long-acting methods such as implants and Intra Uterine Devices,’ Associate Professor Lucke said. ‘Those interested in contraceptive methods other than the Pill describe difficulty in getting information and support, indicating that doctors tend to prescribe the Pill without much discussion of alternative options and their side-effects.’

The preliminary study also showed that one in six of the women had been pregnant, and these women were using some form of contraception at the time but none was using a long-acting method. It is the hope of CUPID Project Coordinator Melissa Harris, from the University of Newcastle’s Research Centre for Gender, Health and Ageing, that findings from the new study will be used to suggest how contraceptive services and advice could be improved in Australia.

Ms Harris explained, ‘To assist policy makers, GPs and other health service providers working for improvements in Australia’s sexual and reproductive health it is essential that we find out more about contraception use and access to services. The CUPID study will help us define more innovative ways to provide access to sexual health information and appropriate contraception in rural areas to overcome the particular problems posed by distance.’

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