Objectives: Explorative pilot study with the aim of gaining insight into the contraceptive counseling practices and possible gender differences of a selected group of male and female gynecologists.
Design: Semi-structured telephone-interviews of 48 gynecologists concerning the content and strategies of their contraceptive counseling with special focus on aspects relevant to patient adherence.
Results: Male and female gynecologists inform equally frequently about various methods and reproductive health aspects such as risks, the advantages and disadvantages of the methods and side effects. Male physicians speak more often about the efficiency and benefits of the methods, while their female colleagues emphasize STI and emergency contraception. Sexual health aspects were seldom mentioned as issues of discussion. For the choice of a contraceptive method efficiency was considered very important by 100%, reversibility by 83%, side effects by 85% and convenience by 79%. Naturalness and costs were more often quoted as important by female, and benefits by male gynecologists. Side effects are considered the most important factor for patient adherence by 60%, counseling and information is predominantly cited by female, and patient's character and personality by male doctors.
Conclusions: While contraceptive counseling by practising gynecologists includes basic information about available methods and their efficiency, as well as some reproductive health issues, sexual health issues are often neglected. Gender differences occasionally influence the choice of the topics as well as the attitude towards the patient.