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Stress, Other Life Factors May Lead to Missed Birth Control Pills

Daily life stressors appear to influence adherence to oral contraceptives in students

THURSDAY, Sept. 30 (HealthDay News) -- Women who lead stressful and busy lives are more likely to have poor oral contraceptive adherence; clinicians may want to consider a patients' daily contextual factors when discussing contraceptive options, according to research published in the October issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Andrew B. Hughey, of the University of Chicago, and colleagues analyzed data from a trial comparing the acceptability of the NuvaRing versus oral contraceptives to determine the factors that influence oral contraceptive adherence among college- and graduate-school students.

The researchers found that non-perfect oral contraceptive adherence, defined as missing at least one pill in three months, was associated with higher perceived stress levels (odds ratio [OR], 3.16; P = .007), working 10 or more hours per week at a paying job (odds ratio, 2.13; P = .075), and cohabitation with a partner (odds ratio, 9.92; P = .040). The authors concluded that physicians should consider the influence of daily life on adherence when they counsel women on contraceptives.

"Students with these risk factors may benefit from methods that entail fewer use behaviors, such as long-acting reversible methods or condoms. When counseling women about their contraceptive options, clinicians should assess not only the patient's demographics, education, and side effects but also the daily context of her life," the authors conclude.

The study was supported by a grant from Organon Pharmaceuticals (now Merck), which manufactures the NuvaRing.

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