In an effort to determine what methods of contraception are “sexually acceptable” to women, the National Institutes of Health is spending approximately $350,000 on a study.
The goal of the study, which is being conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is to encourage more women to use birth control so they might “fully realize the social, economic, and health benefits” of not having children, The Washington Free Beacon reported.
To determine which method of contraception women prefer while having sex, researchers will follow women using birth control for one year.
The grant for the study contended, “High rates of contraceptive dissatisfaction, switching, and discontinuation in the U.S. demand new approaches to contraceptive acceptability and promotion. Behavioral models of contraceptive use have failed to address sexuality, even though contraception is designed for sexual activity.”
The grant also noted, “By following new contraceptive users across 12 months, this study will 1) document sexual acceptability for a variety of contraceptive methods, 2) determine associations between sexual acceptability and continuation over time, and 3) set the stage for the creation of new, more valid sexuality measures to be used in future reproductive health research and interventions.”
The mission of the project is to align women with the contraceptive method “they will find the most sexually acceptable.”
“The proposal catalyzes a patient-centered approach to contraception that has the potential to improve women’s experiences with their methods,” the grant stated. “Research from this program could ultimately be used to help match women with the method(s) they will find the most sexually acceptable—methods they will like and use—thereby helping women fully realize the social, economic, and health benefits of contraception.”
The study has been ongoing since the fall of 2017 and will continue through March 2021. To date, the project has received $347,176 in funding from U.S. taxpayers.
Jenny Higgins, an associate professor in the Gender and Women’s Studies Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is leading the study. Higgins specializes in “mixed-methods research on sexuality, gender, and reproductive health—especially people’s use of condoms and other contraceptive methods.”
Currently, Higgins is also conducting research related to sexual minority women, or “people who identify as lesbian, bisexual and queer (among many other things).” According to Higgins, 20 percent of women in the United States are lesbians or bisexual. The study is analyzing the “unique barriers” that prevent lesbians and bisexuals from receiving “adequate contraceptive care.”