Misperceptions about intrauterine contraception and beliefs and preferences regarding menstrual bleeding: results of an online survey of women in Europe and Canada
ESC Congress Library. Marions L. May 28, 2014; 50566; A-151
Lena Marions
Lena Marions
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To gain a better understanding of young European and Canadian women's knowledge and misperceptions regarding intrauterine contraception (IUC), and their attitudes and beliefs about different patterns of menstrual bleeding.


Nulliparous and parous women aged 20-30 years were recruited in Canada and nine European countries. Women were selected by random sampling from existing market research panels and invited to participate by email. Data were captured during 30-minute web-based interviews conducted between February and March 2012.


Respondent demographics

In total, 4,967 women were surveyed across Canada (n=531), Germany (n=450), France (n=643), the UK (n=529), Italy (n=702), Switzerland (n=376), Austria (n=384), Belgium (n=450), Sweden (n=377) and Ukraine (n=525). Of these, 68% were nulliparous.

Misperceptions about intrauterine contraception (subgroups who recalled these methods)

Women surveyed believed  the hormonal intrauterine system (IUS) and copper intrauterine devices (Cu-IUDs) may increase the risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs) (9% and 12%, respectively) and may cause the following: pelvic infections (19% and 29%), infertility (12% and 18%), ectopic pregnancy (19% and 26%) and weight gain (31% and 9%). Overall, 44% and 40% of women did not know that the hormonal IUS and Cu-IUDs, respectively, are placed in the uterus; correct knowledge was most prevalent in France and least prevalent in the UK. The most frequently reported incorrect locations for placement were in the vagina and arm.

Attitudes and beliefs about bleeding

The percentages of women who expressed a preference for 'shortened periods', 'lighter periods' and for 'their periods to stop completely' were 44%, 43% and 23%, respectively. The desire for 'shortened periods' and 'lighter periods' was most prevalent in Canada (54% and 55%, respectively), whereas the desire for amenorrhoea was most prevalent in Sweden (39%). The belief that ‘skipping periods' was ‘unhealthy for a woman's body' was reported by 47% of women and was most prevalent in Ukraine (78%) and Italy (67%). Additionally, 32% of women believed that irregular periods were ‘unhealthy for a woman's body'; this belief was most prevalent in Ukraine (71%) and Italy (50%).


To prevent IUC from being disregarded as an option by young women, healthcare professionals need to overcome women's misperceptions that use of IUC may increase their risk of STIs, pelvic infections, ectopic pregnancy and weight gain. The ideal time to do this is during contraceptive counselling. Women's misperception that absent or irregular bleeding during contraceptive use is unhealthy also needs to be addressed.

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