In Brazil, high contraceptive prevalence rates coexist with high rates of unintended pregnancies. Contraceptive discontinuation may explain this context, but few studies have focused on highly educated young women in countries with low unmet need for modern contraception. This paper explores frequency and associated factors of contraceptive discontinuation among undergraduate students in Brazil within 12-months.
This retrospective cohort study was conducted among a probability sample of 1679 undergraduates of São Paulo University. Data were collected online using a contraceptive calendar. We examined factors related to monthly discontinuation of oral pills and male condoms using Generalized Estimating Equation models.
Altogether, 19% of oral pill users and 48% of male condom users discontinued their method for method-related reasons within 12-months, and 18% of oral pill users and 15% of male condom users abandoned/or switched to less effective methods. Women in casual relationships were at increased odds of oral pill (OR = 1.4 [1.1–1.8]) and male condom discontinuation (OR = 1.3 [1.0–1.7]), and at increased odds of switching from oral pill to less effective or no method (OR = 1.4 [1.1–1.7]). Other associated factors were method specific. Women from lower socioeconomic status or who had multiple lifetime partners were more likely to discontinue or abandon the oral pill, while more sexually experienced women were less likely to discontinue the male condom.
Frequent method discontinuation in Brazil calls for greater attention to the difficulties women face when using short acting methods. Discontinuation was associated with type of partner and sexual experience highlighting the changing contraceptive needs of women at the early stages of their professional careers.