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Giving Emergency Contraception in Advance Found Ineffective

Practice does not reduce pregnancy rates or lead to changes in sexual behavior

FRIDAY, March 26 (HealthDay News) -- Giving women emergency contraception in advance for use after unprotected sex does not reduce pregnancy rates or lead to changes in contraceptive methods or sexual behavior, according to a review in the March issue of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

Chelsea B. Polis, Ph.D., of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, and colleagues reviewed 11 randomized controlled trials involving 7,695 patients in the United States, China, India and Sweden that examined the effect of advance provision of emergency contraception compared with standard care (counseling or receiving emergency contraception on request) on pregnancy rates and other outcomes.

The researchers found that advance provision had no effect on pregnancy rates (odds ratio, 0.98 in studies with 12 month follow up), despite increased use (odds ratios, 2.47 for single use and 4.13 for multiple use) and faster use after unprotected sex. Advance provision had no effect on the rate of sexually transmitted infections or the frequency of unprotected intercourse, and did not lead to changes in contraceptive methods. Women who received advance provision of emergency contraception used condoms at similar rates as other women.

"Women should have easy access to emergency contraception, because it can decrease the chance of pregnancy," Polis and colleagues write. "However, the interventions tested thus far have not reduced overall pregnancy rates in the populations studied."

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