International “I Plan On…” Survey from MSD Showed Gaps in Women’s Awareness of and Knowledge About the Range of Available Birth Control Options

Europe, Greece, North America, United States

International “I Plan On…” Survey from MSD Showed Gaps in Women’s Awareness of and Knowledge About the Range of Available Birth Control Options

The Survey Results, Being Presented at ESC, Also Showed That Many Women Using Birth Control Would Like to Change Something About Their Contraception

22/06/2012 — ATHENS, Greece — (BUSINESS WIRE)

Today MSD (NYSE: MRK), known as Merck in the United States and Canada, announced key findings from the I Plan On… international online survey of 4,199 women aged 18–35 living in nine countries1. Among the women surveyed, a number of myths and misconceptions about contraception were identified. The results of the survey also showed that many women lacked awareness about the correct usage of certain types of birth control. In addition, most of the women surveyed would have changed something about their birth control. The combination of these factors may influence a woman’s ability to choose – and use – the best method of contraception for her.

In the survey, presented June 22, 2012 at the 12th European Society of Contraception and Reproductive Health (ESC) Congress, most women using contraception were using the Pill and few women were using long-acting reversible contraception. The survey showed that although many women had discussed the birth control pill with their healthcare provider, few had discussed non-pill options. Among the women surveyed, many had discussed their lifestyles with their healthcare provider, however, only half were confident that their lifestyles had been taken into account.

“Women, along with their healthcare providers, should take into account their lifestyles when considering available birth control options.” said Dr. Diana Mansour, consultant in Community Gynaecology and Reproductive Health Care, head of Sexual Health Services, Newcastle Hospitals Community Health, Newcastle, England. “We need to also further educate women about all of their contraception options and clear up any misconceptions so they can make informed decisions that are right for them.”

Myths and misconceptions about contraception

In the survey, which was conducted in nine countries worldwide, responses showed that many women – regardless of nationality or age – had misconceptions about contraception:

  • More than one in four of respondents (28%; 1,169 out of 4,199) believed that long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) are permanent (i.e. nonreversible) birth control options.
  • Nineteen percent (19%; 812 out of 4,199) of respondents believed that long-term contraceptives all require surgical insertion into the womb.
  • Almost one-third of respondents (31%; 1,309 out of 4,199) believed that birth control pills have the highest rates of efficacy (i.e. are the best protection against pregnancy) among all contraceptives.
  • Nearly one in five women (19%; 778 out of 4,199) did not believe that they could get pregnant if they missed a birth control pill.

Most women surveyed would have changed something about their contraception and few had discussed options other than the birth control pill with their HCPs

In addition to addressing knowledge about and awareness of contraception, the survey questions also sought to gain a better understanding of contraceptive choices and counseling. Of all women who participated in the survey, birth control pills were the most widely used contraceptive (44%; 1,832 out of 4,199). Only 21% of all women were using any other method (excluding condoms) (884 out of 4,199). Fewer than 10% of all women were using long-acting reversible contraception, such as hormonal injections, the implant/rod, intrauterine devices (IUDs) or intrauterine systems (IUSs) (387 out of 4,199).

With respect to contraceptive choices and counseling, the survey results showed:

  • Among women with no plans to get pregnant in the near future (68%; 2,854 out of 4,199), just less than half (48%; 1,356 out of 2,854) preferred to focus on achieving their life goals first before having children.
  • Although 76% of women currently using birth control had discussed their lifestyles with their HCPs, approximately half (50%; 1,632 out of 3,275) were confident that their physicians had taken their lifestyles into account when prescribing their current contraceptive.
  • Two-thirds of women (66%; 2,792 out of 4,199) had discussed birth control pills with their healthcare providers, but few had discussed non-pill options (e.g. IUD 19% (808 out of 4,199); patch 18% (747 out of 4,199); vaginal ring 16% (684 out of 4,199); implant/rod 13% (564 out of 4,199); and hormonal injection 13% (559 out of 4,199)).
  • Of 2,316 women in the survey currently using hormonal birth control, the majority (72%; 1,674 out of 2,316) would like to change something about their contraceptive.
  • Almost one third (30%; 692 out of 2316) of all women using hormonal birth control said that they would change having to take it regularly. Of the 692 women who would change having to take it regularly, 96% (664 out of 692) were taking a birth control pill.
  • Close to a half of IUD (46%; 70 out of 152) and implant/rod (44%; 35 out of 80) users and one quarter of pill users (25%, 464 out of 1,832) reported that they would not change anything about their contraceptive.

“Many women surveyed reported that they wanted to focus on achieving their life goals before having children. That survey finding is indicative of how a woman’s personal plan and priorities may impact her selected contraceptive method,” said Dr. Fabiola Beligotti, regional director medical affairs, MSD, and lead author of the study. “It is important that women receive accurate information about their options so, with the help of their physician, they can find the right option for their personal situation and then know how to use that method effectively.”

About the Study

The “I Plan On…” survey was an online, cross-sectional, multinational global questionnaire executed by the independent market research company Growth for Knowledge (GfK), on behalf of MSD. A total of 4,199 women aged 18–35 years from nine countries (Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Mexico, Spain, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) participated in the survey conducted between 22 September and 6 October, 2011. The 27 questions addressed contraceptive choices and counseling, how women integrate contraceptives into their life plans, and knowledge and understanding about contraceptives.

Notes to Editor: Panel Discussion at ESC and via WebCast

A panel discussion will be held on 22 June, 2012 during ESC in Athens, Greece at 12:30pm EEST to discuss the results of the “I Plan On…” survey. The panel, moderated by Nicola Hill, will feature study author Dr. Fabiola Beligotti, as well as international experts Dr. Diana Mansour and Prof. George Creatsas. The panel discussion will also be broadcast live via WebCast.

Please contact to register for either the live or WebCast event. An archived version will be available after 22 June, 2012 at: to be made available from 14:00pm EEST 25 June, 2012.

About MSD

Today’s MSD is a global healthcare leader working to help the world be well. MSD is a tradename of Merck & Co., Inc., with headquarters in Whitehouse Station, N.J., U.S.A. Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, and consumer care and animal health products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to healthcare through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. For more information, visit and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

Merck Forward-Looking Statement

This news release includes “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the safe harbor provisions of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such statements may include, but are not limited to, statements about the benefits of the merger between Merck and Schering-Plough, including future financial and operating results, the combined company’s plans, objectives, expectations and intentions and other statements that are not historical facts. Such statements are based upon the current beliefs and expectations of Merck’s management and are subject to significant risks and uncertainties. Actual results may differ from those set forth in the forward-looking statements.

The following factors, among others, could cause actual results to differ from those set forth in the forward-looking statements: the possibility that all of the expected synergies from the merger of Merck and Schering-Plough will not be realized, or will not be realized within the expected time period; the impact of pharmaceutical industry regulation and health care legislation in the United States and internationally; Merck’s ability to accurately predict future market conditions; dependence on the effectiveness of Merck’s patents and other protections for innovative products; and the exposure to litigation and/or regulatory actions.

Merck undertakes no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. Additional factors that could cause results to differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements can be found in Merck’s 2011 Annual Report on Form 10-K and the company’s other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) available at the SEC’s Internet site (

1 All research statistics refer to a survey commissioned by Growth for Knowledge (GfK) (on behalf of MSD) across nine countries including the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Brazil, Mexico, Australia and Russia among 4,199 women aged 18-35.
2 Beligotti, F and Gordon, K.. Findings from the International I Plan On…Survey: Women’s awareness, misconceptions, and preferences regarding their contraceptive options. Poster presented at ESC Congress, 2012.



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