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


June 11, 2015 7:00 am ET

Survey Reveals Women Avoid Crucial Conversations with Partners and Health Care Providers, Including Discussions about Birth Control Options

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. 

About Merck

Today’s Merck is a global health care leader working to help the world be well. Merck is known as MSD outside the United States and Canada. Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies and animal health products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to health care through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. For more information, visit and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

Forward-Looking Statement

This news release includes “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the safe harbor provisions of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements are based upon the current beliefs and expectations of Merck’s management and are subject to significant risks and uncertainties. If underlying assumptions prove inaccurate or risks or uncertainties materialize, actual results may differ materially from those set forth in the forward-looking statements.

Risks and uncertainties include but are not limited to, general industry conditions and competition; general economic factors, including interest rate and currency exchange rate fluctuations; the impact of pharmaceutical industry regulation and health care legislation in the United States and internationally; global trends toward health care cost containment; technological advances, new products and patents attained by competitors; challenges inherent in new product development, including obtaining regulatory approval; Merck’s ability to accurately predict future market conditions; manufacturing difficulties or delays; financial instability of international economies and sovereign risk; dependence on the effectiveness of Merck patents and other protections for innovative products; and the exposure to litigation, including patent litigation, and/or regulatory actions.

 Merck undertakes no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise except as required by applicable law. Additional factors that could cause results to differ materially from those described in the forward-looking statements can be found in Merck’s 2014 Annual Report on Form 10-K and the company’s other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) available at the SEC’s Internet site (

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Megan Wilkinson

(267) 305-6463

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