A new study out of McGill University has found that women in abusive relationships are less likely to use birth control. Furthermore, the study found that if they do use contraception, abused women choose more discreet methods — IUDs, injections, or sterilization — because they don't have to disclose the face that their using it, and their partners can't refuse it, deny it to them, or sabotage it in some way.

The study shows that abuse often has a direct effect on women’s contraception choices. I can attest to this 100%. In fact, in my own personal experience, me switching my birth control method without first discussing it with my partner is what led to the first incident of violence in my relationship.

The authors of the study suggest that medical providers looking to reduce the incidence of STIs and HIV should ask women about violence in their relationships, and work with them to find a birth control option that’s isn't able to be interfered with by their partner.

All of this may actually explain why rates of abortion and HIV transmission are higher among women abused by their partners. The World Health Organization says abused women are more likely to contract HIV. This is due to a myriad of reasons including the fact that rape can increase vaginal trauma and tearing which opens the door to future HIV infections. They also state that, “violence and fear of violence” can make it hard for women to “negotiate safe sex.”

Lauren Maxwell, a PhD student at McGill University, told Futurity.com that lack of access to contraception in intimate partner violence situations is, "detrimental to maternal and child health and to women’s education. To improve both, we should consider partner violence when creating programs designed to improve women’s access to contraception.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing intimate partner violence, contact the YWCA of West Central Michigan’s 24-Hour Confidential Crisis Line at 616-451-2744.