Women in the U.S, are not informed about their options regarding emergency contraception, according to a recent report in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Emergency contraception is highly effective in preventing pregnancy, yet women remain largely unaware of its potential. The study said increased awareness and easier access to emergency contraceptive services could drastically reduce the number of abortions and unwanted pregnancies that occur each year.
Emergency contraception involves taking two doses of birth control pills 12 hours apart within the first 72 hours after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure. The pills contain estrogen and progesterone, hormones that prevent the implantation of fertilized eggs and induce menstruation, and are 99% effective in preventing pregnancy. Doctors recommend taking anti-nausea medication to counter common side effects such as nausea, vomiting and breast pain.
Dr. Anna Glasier of the University of Edinburgh said making the distinction between emergency contraception and abortion better understood would help increase use of emergency contraception among health care providers and potential users. She explained that preventing the implantation of an egg which may have been fertilized is different from abortion, which removes an already-implanted embyro.
The Reproductive Health Technologies Project and the Bridging the Gap Foundation have set up a hotline for information on EC: 1-888-668-2528. Princeton’s Office of Population Research has a website on emergency contraception at http://opr.princeton.edu/ec.