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 WAYNE, N.J., Dec. 15 /PRNewswire/ -- With more birth control options available than ever before, a surprising number of women are choosing sterilization procedures -- tubal ligations, vasectomies or hysterectomies -- as their number one choice of birth control, according to the Berlex Laboratories' Positive Health Decisions survey, conducted by the Gallup Organization.
 The nationwide survey, which explored women's behavior and attitudes toward birth control, reported that nearly 33 percent of the women surveyed choose sterilization procedures. Oral contraceptives (OCs) are the second choice (21 percent); all other methods, including condom use, diaphragms, IUD, the implant and the sponge account for less than one in five women's choice of birth control.
 The results found that sterilization procedures increase significantly in women 30 years of age and older. "Initially, we were surprised at the number of women aged 30 to 39 who opt for sterilization procedures," said Cecil Bendush, M.D., vice-president of Clinical Development at Berlex Laboratories. "However it appears that the majority of women who choose sterilization do so after they've completed their childbearing," Dr. Bendush added.
 The survey found that women under 30 are the most frequent users of oral contraceptives, and a greater proportion of single women than married women use them. "Oral contraceptives are 97 percent effective in preventing pregnancy and are completely reversible, making them an excellent choice for women who plan to have children in the future," says Dr. Bendush. "As more women delay childbearing until their 30's, reversible forms of birth control such as oral contraceptives will become increasingly popular," Dr. Bendush predicted.
 Oral Contraceptives Suggested Most by Physicians/Clinics
 Of the women who receive most of their information on birth control from their physicians, 72 percent report that their physician recommended oral contraceptives, according to the survey. Oral contraceptives were also named as the most frequently recommended method by women who cited clinics as their source of information on birth control and by those who rely on friends and relatives or the media.
 Serious as well as minor side effects have been reported with the use of all oral contraceptives (OCs). Physicians should remain alert to the earliest symptoms of serious disease and discontinue OC therapy when appropriate. OCs do not provide protection form sexually transmitted diseases (STDs); condoms are recommended to help prevent STDs, including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Women who use OCs should be strongly advised not to smoke. Before taking any OC, the patient should read all the precautions and possible side effects in the patient package insert.
 Women Unaware of Oral Contraceptive Benefits
 The survey also found that 61 percent of the women were unaware that OCs have noncontraceptive health benefits. Only 16 percent mentioned that oral contraceptives help protect against certain cancers and slightly fewer (10 percent ) cited reduced cramping from menstrual periods. All oral contraceptives, including Berlex Laboratories' Tri- Levlen and Levlen tablets, have significant, protective, noncontraceptive benefits including a reduced risk of ovarian cysts, benign breast cysts and diseases like enodmetrial and ovarian cancer. "Oral contraceptives have also been found to reduce the incidence of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), and may lessen the amount of menstrual blood loss, which, in turn, reduces the risk of iron- deficiency anemia," Dr. Bendush said.
 Birth Control Begins at 16 or Younger
 Sexual activity and decisions about birth control begin at a young age, according to the survey. Approximately 40 percent of the women surveyed reported using birth control at age 16 or younger. The average age for starting birth control was 19. Oral contraceptives and the male condom were most frequently mentioned as the method of birth control women used when they first became sexually active. "The early age at which women become sexually active makes education about various birth control options essential," Dr. Bendush said.
 Future Trends In Birth Control
 More than one-third of women who are not post-menopausal and not currently using any form of birth control say they plan to use birth control in the future. Asked what one birth control method they would most likely use, 46 percent mentioned oral contraceptives, followed by male condoms (16 percent) and tubal ligations (8 percent). Approximately 5 percent said they would most likely use the implant.
 Among women who have used oral contraceptives in the past, 44 percent said they would most likely use OCs again. Among those who plan to use oral contraceptives, convenience/ease of use and effectiveness are cited most often as reasons for their choice.
 "This survey, sponsored by Berlex Laboratories, is unique as it polled such a large number of women of varying ages about questions of behavior and attitude toward birth control methods," according to Harry Cotugno, vice president for Publically-released Information at the Gallup Organization. The survey's margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2 percentage points.
 Berlex Laboratories, headquartered in Wayne, N.J., develops, manufactures and markets therapeutic and diagnostic products for human health care. The company's products are intended for use in various medical disciplines, including reproductive health.
 -0- 12/15/92
 /CONTACT: Lauren M. Waters, 212-598-3635; Jennifer Hubert, 212-598-3652; or Wendy K. Neininger, 201-292-8073, all for Berlex Laboratories, Inc./

CO: Berlex Laboratories, Inc. ST: New Jersey IN: HEA SU:

PS-LR -- NY038 -- 7222 12/15/92 12:36 EST
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Date:Dec 16, 1992

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