Contraceptive Needs Among Women Recently Incarcerated at a Rural Appalachian Jail

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Mary Ann Liebert


Background: Incarceration is associated with negative sexual and reproductive health outcomes. We examined contraceptive needs among women incarcerated at a rural Appalachian jail with emphasis on pregnancy history, recent contraceptive use, and current and near-future contraceptive needs. Materials and Methods: A survey was administered to newly incarcerated women at a jail in Southwest Virginia. It included questions about (1) prior pregnancies; (2) pregnancy intentions, contraceptive use, and sexual activity in the 3 months before jail; (3) unprotected sex in the 5 days before jail; (4) interest in contraceptive education and access during incarceration; and (5) post-release sexual activity, pregnancy, and contraceptive plans. Results: One hundred ninety-three women completed surveys. Analyses focused on the 95 at risk for pregnancy. Fifty-eight percent of prior pregnancies on which women provided intention information were unintended, with 74% of respondents reporting at least 1 such pregnancy. Ninety-four percent of women reported vaginal intercourse during the 3 months before jail. Only 46% of those who did not want to get pregnant reported consistent contraceptive use. Condoms and withdrawal were the most common methods used. Forty percent of women were eligible for emergency contraception (EC). Most (78%) participants anticipated sex with a man within 6 months of release, and most (63%) did not want to become pregnant within a year of release. Almost half (47%) expressed interest in receiving birth control while in jail. Conclusions: Results support the need to offer women EC on incarceration, family planning education during confinement, and effective birth control before release.



incarceration, jail, contraception, reproductive health, emergency contraception, rural