More Than Sex(ual) Health

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Race and Birth Control: What’s Race Got to Do With It?

When you head to the gynecologist, you may have a few question in mind when considering a form of birth control. What kind am I going to get? Pill, patch, shot, intrauterine?  And how affective is it?  But your doctors may have some different questions: what’s your race and socioeconomic status? What’s race got to do with contraception? A lot apparently.

According to a study done by the University of California San Francisco, doctors often use race and socioeconomic status to determine what kind of contraception to offer patients. White women of low socioeconomic status were less likely to be offered intrauterine devices than White women of high socioeconomic status. Of course, these woman’s health played a role in making these decisions, but who would have thought race would play a major role?

An intrauterine device (IUD) is a highly-effective, long term form of contraception. It can last up to five years.  The T-shaped plastic device is inserted into the uterus, hence the word uterine, by your doctor. The device stops the egg from being fertilized and either damaging or killing sperm.

In the UCSF study, over 500 health care providers saw one of 18 videos showing patients of different races and socioeconomic statuses requesting advice on contraception. After they saw the video, they were asked whether or not they would recommend an IUD for that person.

When the groups of women in the video were evaluated based on socioeconomic status, the recommendation to White women were effected, but not for black or Latina women. When participants were evaluated based on race, the health care providers made decisions based on that. The result? IUDs were more likely to be recommended to black and Latina women of low socioeconomic status than to white women of low socioeconomic status.

If you’ve never experienced something like this, it’s something to think about. Now that you have this information, don’t wait for your doctor or nurse practitioner to suggest this or any other form of birth control—you can request an IUD if your heart desires. With the number of unwanted pregnancies at one-half in 2001, we deserve the best protection; no matter our race, wealth, or poverty.

Filed under Birth Control IUDs Contraception Race

  1. morethansexualhealth posted this