Contraceptive Pearl: Comprehensive Contraceptive Counseling

Nearly half of all pregnancies in the U.S are unintended, and teens are at highest risk for experiencing an unwanted pregnancy. Does comprehensive contraceptive counseling affect women’s decisions?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all women be “counseled about the full range and effectiveness of contraceptive methods for which they are medically eligible.” A recent study found that 69% of 14- to 17-year-olds and 61% of 18- to 20-year-olds who were provided with contraceptive counseling that highlights the efficacy of various long acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) methods subsequently chose LARC over non-LARC methods. Many of the women in this study considered ease of use to be the most important factor in their decision.

A study of 1,000 15- to 20-year-olds revealed that following comprehensive counseling on all combined hormonal contraceptives, women were more likely to choose the vaginal ring or patch than oral contraceptive pills. However, women who had chosen the pill before counseling were unlikely to opt for an alternate method afterward.

Optimal contraceptive counseling should follow the principles of shared decision-making. Clinicians should offer comprehensive information about all contraceptive methods, honor patients’ preferences, use patient-centered language, and address methods’ ease of use.

We appreciate your feedback! Please write to us at with any questions, comments or additional resources to add to our list.


Helpful Resources

Your Birth Control Choices Fact Sheet



Egarter C, Tirri Bf, Bitzer J, et al. Women’s perceptions and reasons for choosing the pill, patch, or ring in the CHOICE study: A cross-sectional survey of contraceptive method selection after counseling. BMC Women’s Health. 2013, 13(9); 1-14. 

Merki-Feld GS, Gruber IML. Broad counseling for adolescents about combined hormonal contraceptive methods: The choice study. Journal of Adolescent Health. Apr 2014, 54(4); 404-409.

Pitts S, Emans SJ. Contraceptive counseling: Does it make a difference? Journal of Adolescent Health. 2014, 54(4); 367-368. 



The Reproductive Health Access Project does not accept funding from pharmaceutical companies. We do not promote specific brands of medication or contraception. The information in the Contraceptive Pearls is unbiased, based on science alone.

Contraceptive Pearls

This monthly clinical e-newsletter highlights evidence-based best practice for contraceptive care

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