Contraceptive practices of wives of obstetricians

Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, Charles B. Arnold, Raymond C. Lerner, Susan L. Heimrath

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1 Scopus citations


A mail survey of a sample of the wives of obstetrician-gynecologists in New York state was conducted in 1972 to investigate changing contraceptive practices. This group was of special interest because it represented women with the best access to the most sophisticated information on contraception. Demographic and attitudinal data, collected from the physicians in an earlier survey, were related to the contraceptive preferences of their wives. Among the physicians' wives who were using contraception reported usage was: oral contraceptive, 27 per cent; intrauterine contraceptive device (IUD), 23 per cent; diaphragm, 14 per cent; condom, 12 per cent; foam, douche, withdrawal, or rhythm, 15 per cent; voluntary sterilization (tubal ligation or vasectomy), 9 per cent. These figures reflect a reported decrease in pill usage from 2 years ago and an increase in the use of the IUD. Among the 64 per cent of physicians who, in a prior survey, said they recommended the pill to their patients post abortion, 28 per cent of their own wives were using it, while among the 12 per cent who had recommended the IUD, 52 per cent of their own wives were using the IUD. A surprisingly large percentage of the wives reported the diaphragm or condom as their means of contraception relative to their husbands' recommendation of these methods. While approximately half of the obstetricians' wives depended on the pill or IUD for contraception, the 1970 National Fertility Survey indicated that only a quarter of white women age 30 to 44 used either of these two methods. This latter group showed a considerably higher tendency to use voluntary sterilization. The contraceptive usage of both groups differs from the general recommendations of the obstetric profession which, in the majority, favors the pill. This would indicate that other, more individual factors operate in determining a woman's contraceptive choice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)709-715
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1 1973
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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