Nearly half of young women feel uninformed when making reproductive health decisions

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The study conducted by OnePoll in conjunction with Twentyeight Health reveals the amount of women that do not feel equipped to make reproductive health decisions. (Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash)

Nearly one in five young women who have used birth control did not feel informed about their options when they first started using it, according to new research.

A survey of 1,000 young women — aged 18–35 — found that 18 percent of the young women who have used birth control didn’t feel informed about the actual birth control they were initially using.

And 44 percent of the young women studied admitted they lacked the proper knowledge about the differences between the various birth control options available to them.

Results uncovered that 38 percent didn’t feel they were given the proper information about side effects associated with birth control.

Of the 1,000 women surveyed, 82 percent are currently using birth control. Of those who aren’t, 12 percent have never used it, while 6 percent have used it previously.

The study, conducted by OnePoll in conjunction with Twentyeight Health, examined respondents’ access, affordability and privacy to health care services and information.

A third of the young women studied said they felt ill-equipped with the necessary information about how precisely birth control works and access to medical professionals they actually trusted.

Additionally, 68 percent of women surveyed have questions about reproductive and sexual health — but felt unsure of where to get reliable answers from.

There are social barriers for young women to be more informed about reproductive and sexual health. Seventy-seven percent of young women surveyed feel like there is negative social pressure around talking about sexual and reproductive health, while 65 percent worry about being judged if they talk about sexual and reproductive health.

Interestingly enough, 73 percent agreed that it would be empowering to be able to talk about sexual and reproductive health.

Money tends to be a huge issue for young women when it comes to their sexual and reproductive health, whether they have insurance or not. It turns out, 76 percent of the young women surveyed said they worry about the cost of medical care and medications.

As a result, when they first began using birth control, 28 percent revealed they lacked the money to pay for their doctor’s appointment while a further 26 percent lacked the money to even pay for the birth control they were prescribed.

For those with insurance coverage, navigating their insurance plans is another obstacle. Seventy-one percent of the young women studied say they are frustrated when it comes to understanding what exactly is covered by their insurance plan.

Another 64 percent of the young women surveyed reveal they are frustrated when it comes to knowing which doctors are covered by their insurance plans while a further 63 percent find it frustrating trying to know the cost of medical services ahead of time.

These frustrations are not limited to the cost of medical services. Sixty-two percent of the young women studied say they are frustrated when it comes to knowing the cost of their prescriptions before they are filled while another 58 percent find it frustrating to actually get the birth control they want.

“Our goal is to make it easier for women to get the care they need and increase transparency around what services are available to them,” said a spokesperson for Twentyeight Health.

As a result of the cost implications and limitations on young women, a whopping 79 percent have relied on home remedies or over-the-counter drugs for sexual and reproductive care treatments instead of going to see a doctor in the last 12 months, while a further 69 percent have postponed going to see a doctor due to the high costs associated with doing so.

Shockingly, these high costs are also causing 69 percent of young women to choose to skip doses of a medication or treatment while another 57 percent delay filling their prescriptions because they simply can’t afford it.

On top of cost, these young women face additional barriers to accessing sexual and reproductive health. Sixty-five percent worry about having to take time off of work or school to visit the doctor, while others worry about finding transportation to get to and from the clinic (65 percent).

Nearly three-quarters of women also worry about others finding out that they are using sexual and reproductive health services.

“We need to think about access to care holistically, considering the medical needs of the women and what their everyday realities are,” said a spokesperson for Twentyeight Health. “For a student that is juggling part-time work, they don’t have the luxury to take a sick day to see the doctor, let alone go to follow up appointments. For a young woman living in a rural area without a car, physically getting to the clinic or the pharmacy could be a major challenge.

“As we built Twentyeight Health, we took these factors into account, such as providing free messaging directly with doctors for follow-up questions after the initial online consultation. Addressing these barriers are critical to fulfilling our mission of helping women get high quality sexual and reproductive care.”

TOP 5 WORRIES FOR YOUNG WOMEN RELATED TO SEXUAL & REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH (OTHER THAN COST)

  1. Other people finding out about it 74%
  2. Understanding what healthcare services, tests or procedures I need 69%
  3. Knowing where to go to get healthcare services 69%
  4. Quality of the services 67%
  5. Two-way tie:
  • Being able to take time off of work or school 65%
  • Commuting to the clinic or hospital 65%
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TOP 3 EFFECTS OF HIGH COSTS OF SEXUAL & REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH

  1. Two-way tie:
  • Skipped doses of a medication or treatment 79%
  • Relied on home remedies or over-the-counter drugs instead of seeing a doctor 79%

2. Postponed going to see the doctor 69%

3. Delayed filling a prescription 66%

>> Download the video and infographic for this research story <<

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