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Birth Control May Not Mean More Promiscuous Women

Last updated Sept. 9, 2015

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD MPH

Nate Grigg

A new study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO suggests that providing women with free birth control does not result in increased sex with multiple partners.


A new study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO suggests that providing women with free birth control does not result in increased sex with multiple partners. 

Published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, the researchers used data from the Contraceptive CHOICE Project, which tracked 9,256 women whose risked were high for accidental pregnancy. The age range was between 14 and 45 years. Also, 32 percent had a high school education or less.

The researchers say that a previous study suggests the providing women with free birth control significantly reduced unintended pregnancies and abortions. For this experiment, the researchers wanted to know whether providing women with free birth control would increase the number of sexual partners they have and recurrence of intercourse during the year after they received the free contraception. The participants were provided with free contraception of their choice, including intrauterine devices, implants, birth control pills, patches and rings.

The participants answered two surveys about their sexual behaviors six and 12 months after receiving free contraception. The questions included how often they had sex in the previous 30 days and the number of partners involved. In total, 85 percent of the women completed both surveys, of which 49 percent had never had a child and 62 percent had a previous unintended pregnancy.

Overall, the percentage of women who stated they had multiple partners could have been the population who declined during the study. Though 5 percent stated having sex with more than one male sexual partner at the beginning of the study, only 3.5 percent reported this at 6 months, and 3.3 percent reported this at 12 months after receiving free contraception.

Approximately 70 percent of the women surveyed conveyed no change in their number of sexual partners at 12 months, whereas almost 14 percent reported a decrease and 16 percent reported an increase. More than 80 percent who did have an increase of sexual partners increased from no partner to just one. 

Dr. Jeffrey Peipert says, "The notion that women will have sex with more partners if you give them free birth control didn't pan out in this study. Providing no-cost contraception did not result in riskier sexual behavior."

References and Information Sources used for the Article:


Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: March 14, 2014
Last updated: Sept. 9, 2015