Background and methodology.
Sociodemographic trends mean increasing numbers of new relationships in later life. These trends may not only have health consequences for women and health services but also impact on the targeting of sexual health messages. This study aimed to examine attitudes and knowledge surrounding contraception, sexual health and unwanted pregnancy among those accessing the website www.menopausematters.co.uk. A voluntary online survey was completed.
Survey was completed by 550 respondents. Three hundred and sixty-six women, 94% of whom self-classified as pre- or perimenopausal, had been sexually active with a male partner in the previous four weeks. Commonest contraceptive methods used by perimenopausal and postmenopausal women were condoms, combined oral contraceptive pill (COCP) and male sterilization. Up to 42% of women surveyed were unhappy with their contraception. A total of 27% premenopausal, 32% perimenopausal women and 40% postmenopausal used no contraception. One-third of women were unhappy about this and 19 unplanned pregnancies had occurred. The majority of women were informed regarding COCP use over 35 years, hormone replacement therapy, emergency contraception and ceasing contraception. The majority of women were unaware that more terminations of pregnancy are performed in women over 40 than any other age group per total pregnancies.Almost a third of women were unaware that chlamydia incidence is increasing in older women. Most would use condoms in new relationship.
Discussion and conclusions.
Women accessing www.menopausematters.co.uk are well informed about contraception and sexual health. The majority of those accessing the site are sexually active, but many use no contraception, or are unhappy with their chosen method, leaving them vulnerable to unwanted pregnancy or sexually transmitted infection.
- Sexual behaviour