Over the counter contraceptive pill will not reduce unplanned pregnancies, says expert

Dec 24, 2008

Making the contraceptive pill available without prescription will not reduce unwanted pregnancies, says an expert in an article published on bmj.com today.

Sarah Jarvis from the Royal College of Physicians argues that it is a lack of daily compliance with taking oral contraceptives which is partly responsible for the high rates of unintended teenage pregnancies in the UK.

Studies have shown that nearly half of all women taking the oral contraceptive pill miss one or more pills in each cycle, and nearly a quarter missed two or more. These women are three times more likely to get pregnant unintentionally than those who take the pill consistently.

She points out that the availability of emergency contraception without prescription has done little to change the rate of teenage pregnancies.

Jarvis believes that the solution lies in long acting reversible contraceptives such as the coil, or those which can be placed under the skin or injected. They last between three months and three years, and because they are not dependent on patients taking them correctly, are much more reliable than oral contraceptives, she adds.

"Increased uptake of reliable, non user-dependent methods, rather than making a potentially unreliable method of contraception more easily available, has to be the key ", she concludes.

But Dr Daniel Grossman of Ibis Reproductive Health argues that the requirement for a prescription is a barrier to oral contraceptive use in some women.

He points out that if governments are committed to reducing rates of unintended pregnancies and maternal deaths in the developing world, increased access to safe oral contraceptives for all women at low or no cost is vital.

Source: British Medical Journal

Explore further: More than a quarter of emergency contraceptives in Peru falsified or substandard

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

US reviews birth control pill safety over clot risk

May 31, 2011

The US Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday it is reviewing recently published studies which have pointed to an increased blood clot risk associated with a certain type of birth control pill.

50 years on, the pill still changes lives

May 05, 2010

On Sunday, men and women around the world will mark an event 50 years ago that revolutionized their lives -- the approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the birth control pill.

Recommended for you

Study recalculates costs of combination vaccines

Apr 17, 2014

One of the most popular vaccine brands for children may not be the most cost-effective choice. And doctors may be overlooking some cost factors when choosing vaccines, driving the market toward what is actually a more expensive ...

Drug watchdog urges vigilance in cancer drug theft

Apr 17, 2014

Europe's medicine watchdog urged doctors Thursday to be vigilant in administering the cancer drug Herceptin, vials of which had been stolen in Italy and tampered with before being sold back into the supply chain.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Scientists make critical end-stage liver discovery

(Medical Xpress)—A team of researchers in the University of Arizona's College of Pharmacy has discovered a molecular pathway that could be key to creating new therapeutics that would slow or even reverse ...

Solving cancer's secrets

Some fathers play ball with their sons. Or take them fishing. Chuck Perou's father took his son to his pathology lab to show him how a pathologist conducts tests and runs experiments. Perou, a nature junky ...

Harm-reduction program optimizes HIV/AIDS prevention

(Medical Xpress)—New research from UC San Francisco and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation has found that clients participating in a harm-reduction substance use treatment program, the Stonewall Project, decrease their use ...

Meth mouth menace

Something was up in Idaho. While visiting a friend in Athol, a small town north of Coeur d'Alene, Jennifer Towers, director of research affairs at the Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, noticed ...