Use of emergency contraception is increasing in the United States

August 1, 2011

Analysis of data from the 2006-2008 National Survey of Family Growth reveals that use of emergency contraception in the US has more than doubled since 2002, from 4.2% to 9.7%, but remains highly dependent on whether physicians provide counseling about EC.

Analysis of data from the 2006–2008 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) reveals that use of emergency contraception (EC) in the US has more than doubled since 2002, from 4.2% to 9.7%, but remains highly dependent on whether physicians provide counseling about EC. However, the percentage of physicians providing counseling remains consistently low.

Of the 7,356 women interviewed for the NSFG, only 3% reported having received counseling about EC in the past year. Among the 63% of women who reported having received a Pap smear or pelvic examination in the past 12 months, only slightly more, 4%, reported receiving counseling about EC.

Overall, 9.7% of respondents who reported ever having had sex with a male partner said they had ever used EC. Among those women who had received EC counseling during the past year and who had visited a healthcare provider during that time, 43% had received counseling about EC from a family planning or Planned Parenthood clinic. The next most common site for providing EC counseling was a community health clinic (26%), followed by private physicians' offices (16%).

Certain groups of women had increased odds of both having received EC counseling in the past year and having ever used EC: those 18 to 29 years of age; those who had never married; those who had had a previous abortion; those who intended to have another child; those who had ever used the pill, patch, or ring; and those who had received a Pap test or pelvic exam in the past year.

Kavanaugh ML, Williams SL, Schwarz EB. Emergency contraception use and counseling after changes in United States prescription status. Fertil Steril. 2011;95(8):2578-2581.