The Pill and the Condom, Substitution or Association ?

An Analysis of the Contraceptive Histories of Young Women in France, 1978-2000
By Clémentine Rossier, Henri Leridon, equipe Cocon


The contraceptive practices of young women (aged 15-29) underwent two important evolutions during recent decades in France. First of all, beginning in the late 1960s, the use of the pill became general in this age group. However, its diffusion was not yet complete when the AIDS epidemic appeared suddenly in the late 1980s. As a result of HIV prevention campaigns, the young adopted the condom massively as their principal contraceptive method. This had two consequences : an expansion of contraceptive coverage (by the late 1990s, nearly all first relations were protected), and a postponement of the age at first use of the pill. Within this context, it may be suggested that the introduction of the condom turned some young people away from the pill. By simultaneously using period data from the last four national surveys on contraception (INED-INSEE-INSERM), and complete contraceptive histories collected during the most recent of these surveys (COCON), we show that the proportion of users of the pill decreased — in the mid - 1980s — only at the very onset of sexual life, and that the much more frequent use of the condom at these first relations finally led young women to turn rapidly to the pill.

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