Study Objective: Although underutilized, the vaginal contraceptive ring has several advantages over other contraceptive methods that could benefit adolescents. We examined factors that may influence willingness to try the vaginal ring including: sexual and contraceptive history, genital comfort, and vaginal ring characteristics. Design: Cross sectional. Setting: Midwestern adolescent health clinics. Participants: Adolescent women (N = 200; 14-18 years; 89% African-American). Interventions/Main Outcome Measures: All participants received education about the vaginal ring and viewed pictures demonstrating insertion; they then completed a visual/audio computer-assisted self interview. The primary outcome variable, willingness to try the vaginal ring, was a single Likert-scale item. Results: Over half the participants reported knowledge of the vaginal ring with healthcare providers identified as the most important source of contraceptive information. Comfort with one's genitals, insertion and removal, using alternative methods of insertion, and knowing positive method characteristics were significantly associated with willingness to try the vaginal ring. A decreased willingness to try the vaginal ring was related to concerns of the ring getting lost inside or falling out of the vagina. Conclusions: Willingness to try the ring was associated with positive feelings about genitals (e.g., comfort with appearance, hygiene, function). Thus, to increase willingness to try the vaginal ring among adolescents, providers should make it common practice to discuss basic female reproductive anatomy, raise awareness about female genital health and address concerns about their genitals. Providers can offer alternative insertion techniques (e.g., gloves) to make use more accessible. These strategies may increase vaginal ring use among adolescents.
- Genital comfort
- Vaginal ring
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Obstetrics and Gynecology
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health