Developing countries have seen an increase in the use of hormonal contraception due to its high efficacy in preventing pregnancy. Our study assessed risk compensation among single women of reproductive age using hormonal contraception.
The study used data from a nationally representative, cross-sectional sample of the 2018 Zambia Demographic and Health Survey (DHS). Study participants (N = 2151) were single, sexually active women aged 15–49 years, of whom 595 were using hormonal contraception.
Hormonal contraception was used by 26% of participants, 81% of whom reported they had not used a condom every time they had sexual intercourse (p < .001). Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) were reported in 4% of hormonal contraceptive users, compared with 2% of non-hormonal contraceptive users (p = .036). The odds of condom use at each occurrence of sexual intercourse were lower for: hormonal contraceptive users (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 0.62; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.48, 0.80); women aged 15–19 years (adjusted OR 0.62; 95% CI 0.36, 1.08) and 20–24 years (adjusted OR 0.56; 95% CI 0.33, 0.95); women with no education (adjusted OR 0.33; 95% CI 0.16, 0.69) and primary education (adjusted OR 0.62; 95% CI 0.42, 0.94); women in the low wealth quintile (adjusted OR 0.46; 95% CI 0.36, 0.61); and women who had one or more children (adjusted OR 0.59; 95% CI 0.45, 0.77).
Lack of knowledge about hormonal contraception predisposes women to sexual risk behaviour. As hormonal contraception is very effective in preventing unwanted pregnancy, and condoms are effective in reducing the risk of STI transmission, the use of both (dual protection) should be encouraged.