Merck Launches New Program That Encourages Women to "Rule the Real Talk" and Prioritize Their Sexual Health

June 11, 2015

Merck announced today the results of a recent on-line survey about women's views on relationships and sex.

PRESS RELEASE

KENILWORTH, N.J.-— Merck (NYSE: MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, announced today the results of a recent on-line survey about women’s views on relationships and sex, which found that women are less assertive about initiating discussions about their sexual health than they are about other important areas of their lives. That’s why Merck is launching an educational campaign called “Rule the Real Talk” with Dr. Logan Levkoff, relationship and sex expert, and Dr. Rebecca Brightman, OB/GYN and women’s health expert, to help women spark important conversations about sexual health, including birth control options, with both their partners and their health care providers.

According to the survey, nearly one-third (31%) of women in a relationship rarely or never talk to their partner about sexual health, and six in ten (62%) of those who do have these discussions admit they don’t initiate them. Additionally, one-fifth of all women (22%) say they feel uncomfortable discussing their sexual history with their partner.

“In my years as a relationship expert, I’ve seen many women who are reluctant to make the first move when it comes to advocating for their sexual health,” said Dr. Logan Levkoff, relationship and sex expert. “Whether they want to spice things up, connect on a deeper level, or discuss their birth control options, women need to speak up. I’m excited to be a part of this program to help women learn how to start conversations about what’s important to them. Their ability to take those first steps toward an open dialogue could help forge a deeper and more meaningful relationship with their partners.”

Another important relationship for women — whether they are single or committed to someone – is with their health care provider. Unfortunately, nearly a quarter (24%) of all women surveyed feel uncomfortable discussing their sexual history with their health care provider. And, almost three in ten (29%) women admit they typically rely on their health care provider to initiate discussions about their birth control options, highlighting a need to help women feel like they can make the first move to ask questions about birth control during a health care provider visit.

“Women should feel just as ambitious advocating for their needs about matters inside the bedroom as they do outside the bedroom,” said Dr. Rebecca Brightman, women’s health expert. “As a practicing OB/GYN, I encourage women to think of her health care provider as their health advocate — someone who’s on her side and can help her navigate any questions or concerns she has about her sexual health, including what birth control options may work best for her.”

A woman should feel comfortable openly voicing any questions she has and should work with her health care provider to explore available birth control options, including ones that she doesn’t have to take every day.

Additional survey findings

  • Almost all women with a significant other (93%) say they work to breathe life into their relationship;
  • The majority of women who work to keep their relationship healthy do so by making time to communicate with their partner (71%), or by making an effort to be spontaneous (49%).

Survey Methodology

The Merck Contraception Survey was conducted by Kelton between October 8 and October 29, 2014 among 2,015 American women ages 18-40 including 1,005 current birth control users and 1,010 non-current birth control users, using an e-mail invitation and an online survey.