Women in Singapore are well aware of contraceptive methods such as condoms or the Pill, but they surprisingly lack knowledge of newer alternatives, a local study has found.
Of the nine contraceptive methods, fewer than half of the 259 women quizzed were aware of five.
These newer methods are: birth control implants and patches, injectable contraceptives, vaginal rings, and hormonal intra-uterine devices (IUDs).
The women were quizzed by doctors from the National University Hospital, and the ignorance of so many took one of the study's authors by surprise.
Said Dr Arundhati Gosavi, an associate consultant at the hospital's Women's Centre: "Despite the high level of education, our study population has a lower awareness of long-acting reversible methods and the newer, combined hormonal methods."
Percentage of the 259 women quizzed who knew about each of the following birth control methods:
Oral contraceptive pill: 89.2%
Tubal ligation: 73%
Copper intra-uterine device (IUD): 72.2%
Injectable contraceptive: 46.7%
Vaginal ring: 31.7%
Hormonal IUD: 24.3%
She surmised it could be because condoms and oral contraceptive pills are generally more visible and talked about.
"Condoms, for example, are easily spotted over counters in shopping areas and are easily available. Hence, more people are aware of them," said Dr Arundhati.
This, despite newer methods such as vaginal rings and contraceptive patches being more convenient and working in much the same way as pills. These newer methods "are hardly used by our women due to lack of awareness", she added.
The study results were published in the November edition of the Singapore Medical Journal.
The least-known contraceptive method is hormonal IUD, which is familiar to only one-quarter of the women.
The device releases hormones slowly into the womb over a five-year period, and is generally considered one of the most effective contraceptive methods. Fewer than one in every 100 women who use them gets pregnant.
Awareness of vaginal rings and contraceptive patches is not very high too, standing at 32 per cent and 41 per cent respectively.
Both use hormones to prevent ovulation and to thin the lining of the womb so that any fertilised eggs will not be implanted.
Out of every 100 women who use either of the two methods, between six and nine will become pregnant in a year.
While there is no "best" contraceptive, said Dr Christopher Chong, an obstetrician and gynaecologist at Gleneagles Hospital Singapore, it is important for all women to know what is available.
"There are pros and cons for each type of contraception, but the important thing is to know your options so you'll be able to choose."