Most young women believe that emergency contraception (EC) is safe and effective, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. The survey of sexually active 15-to-24 year-old women, conducted by the University of California, San Francisco, was aimed at evaluating the attitude toward EC among women at high risk for unintended pregnancy. Researchers found that 92 percent believed that EC was safe and 98 percent thought it was effective. They also found that women who were given an advance supply of EC were more likely to take it within the first 24 hours after unprotected sex when it is most effective.
Despite their belief in its efficacy, 14 percent of the women in the study said that they have not used EC on at least one occasion when they may have needed it — the most common reason being that it was too difficult to obtain. Though the FDA approved EC for over-the-counter sales to adults without a prescription, minors still need a prescription. There have also been reports of independently owned pharmacies refusing to stock EC. Some major chains allow their pharmacists to conscientiously refuse to dispense EC, as long as they refer patients to another pharmacist.
“Contraceptives, including EC, have to be inexpensive and easily accessible,” said Dr. Beth Jordan, the Feminist Majority Foundation’s medical director. “Comprehensive sex education is also critical so that women understand their true risk of pregnancy at any given moment and have access to the necessary tools to control their fertility.”
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