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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Thursday's Psychology Trivia: T or F Free Birth Control Is Linked To Promiscuity

Thought for the Day: It is Thursday and time for a Psychology Trivia question. As always, most of the answers to these questions are far from trivial. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to hear 89 year old B.B. King live at the Jazz Up July 2014 Series in Stamford CT. It was a pleasure to hear a jazz icon outdoors on a beautiful summer night. I hope you are enjoying the summer! Here's today's trivia question on what has been a controversial subject, free birth control for girls and women.

Trivia Question:

     True or False: Free birth control is linked to promiscuity

Read on to see the answer... 
The answer is a definitive: False. Contrary to popular belief, giving women and girls (ages 14 - 45) free birth control does not lead to promiscuity. A study last April in Obstetrics and Gynecology of 9,256 girls and women (7,751 replied to a survey at 1 month, 6 months and 1 year after receiving free birth control) found:
"a statistically significant decrease in the fraction of women and adolescents who reported more than one sexual partner during the past 30 days from baseline to 12 months... Most participants (70–71%) reported no change in their number of sexual partners at 6 and 12 months, whereas 13% reported a decrease and 16% reported an increase (P<.01). More than 80% of participants who reported an increase in the number of partners experienced an increase from zero to one partner."
They did find that the frequency of intimate relations increased but there was no increase in sexually transmitted diseases and a decrease in abortions.

The researchers concluded that there is "little evidence to support concerns of increased risk-taking behavior" as a result of access to free birth control. 

This finding should allay some fears for parents of teenagers who become sexually active. As a psychologist, it is worrisome that teenagers are becoming sexually active at younger and younger ages. It is my experience that early sexual encounters in less than committed relations not birth control and safe sex practices, leads to promiscuity and harmful issues of low self esteem. I believe it is important to speak to children in their early tweens. I encourage parents to speak to their children about abstaining from becoming sexually active till they are at least 18; however, many teens pressured by movies, television and other teenagers, are not waiting. 

Early discussions should be focused on birth control, safe sex and on the importance of waiting until they are ready for serious committed loving relationships, that most people are not capable of before adulthood.  Subsequent talks need to happen as the child matures and begins to develop relationships with the opposite sex to insure that they know how to practice safe sex if they do not wait. 

Knowing that access to birth control does not lead to promiscuous behavior may help parents be more comfortable with helping their children have access to birth control. Since it has been proven that it helps prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, it seems important not to withhold access from teenagers.

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