The Year of Magical Thinking. It's a great book (you should read it!). It's not such a great way to think about your sex life. But according to the results of a recently published Guttmacher Institute study, 42 percent of women think that they can't or won't get pregnant when they have sex. [Tweet this crazy stat!]
Titled "The Year of Magical Thinking...Leads to Unintended Pregnancy," the study focuses on womens' perceptions of pregnancy risks. In 49 in-depth interviews with women aged 20 to 24, researchers found that 32 believed themselves to be at low risk for pregnancy, either because they believed that they were infertile, their partners were infertile, or that because they were on the pill, they wouldn't get pregnant.
The most common reason cited by the women interviewed was that they believed themselves to be "immune" to pregnancy. One woman reported, "I'd always had good luck...Nothing bad ever happened to me that was crazy." Another said, "It's like you believe something so much, like, 'I don't want kids,' that I guess I just started to believe it. For some reason, I thought that would prevent me from getting pregnant." Other women mentioned that doctors had suggested they'd have a hard time getting pregnant, while some admitted they believed skipping one or two pills wouldn't really matter, saying that they believed the pills were "like magic."
Besides the fact that most of the women in the study (60 percent of whom had had an abortion) were poorer than the national profile of women who have had abortions as well as a little less likely to have had a previous child, they didn't deviate from the national profile in any other significant ways, and most had a college education.
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Admittedly the sample size wasn't that large, but while the researchers noted that more research should be done, they pointed out that this could suggest a need for better sexual and health education. Researchers also concluded that the women's difficulties in articulating some of their beliefs about pregnancy hindered the ability to draw more specific conclusions from the study (maybe this means we should actually, you know, get more comfortable talking about sex in the U.S.!).
However! We just want to take this time to issue a friendly neighborhood reminder that "magical thinking" isn't actually a valid or widely endorsed form of birth control, and that, you know, it doesn't actually work.
Tell us what your reaction to this study is in the comments below or @Shape_Magazine.