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J Adolesc Health. 2009 Sep;45(3):262-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2009.02.007. Epub 2009 May 30.

Attitudes toward the vaginal ring and transdermal patch among adolescents and young women.

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Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, University of California-San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA.



The vaginal ring and the transdermal patch offer important contraceptive options for women at high risk for unintended pregnancy. Little is known about what adolescents and young women think about these methods and why use of the ring has been relatively low compared with the patch. We sought to examine young women's attitudes and perceptions about the ring and the patch to better understand the relationship between perceptions of these methods and decisions to use them.


Sixteen focus groups of young women aged 15-26 years (n=113) from family planning clinics in the San Francisco Bay Area were convened. Data from the focus groups were analyzed using standard content analysis.


Although young women expressed apprehension and doubt about both methods, for the most part women expressed more positive attitudes about the patch. Two related themes for the ring and the patch were identified: "lack of trust in effectiveness," and "method use concerns". Two themes unique to the ring ("concerns regarding vaginal insertion" and "sexual partner perceptions") and three themes unique to the patch ("ease of remembering," "visibility issues," and "perceived health risk") were identified.


Increased provider education about apprehensions related to the ring and the patch may lead to increased use of the ring and may counter recent declines in use of the patch. It would be unfortunate if these safe and effective options for young women were to be underused because negative attitudes and perceptions about these methods acted as barriers to adoption.

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