Pregnant teenagers and contraceptionBMJ 1995; 311 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.311.7008.806a (Published 23 September 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:806
- B J Whitlow,
- N Desmond,
- P Hay
- Senior house officer Senior registrar Senior lecturer Department of Genitourinary Medicine, St George's Hospital, London SW17 0RE
Women know little about emergency contraception, and men know less
EDITOR,--V A H Pearson and colleagues report that 81% of the teenagers in their study had heard of emergency contraception.1 In the department of genitourinary medicine at St George's Hospital we recently conducted a study of patients' knowledge of emergency contraception. Of 100 consecutive women interviewed (age range 15-48), 85 had heard of emergency contraception. Eleven of those 85 had the misconception that the hormonal method of emergency contraception is effective only up to 12 hours--that is, a “morning after pill.” Only 35 of these patients were aware that it is effective up to 72 hours after unprotected sexual intercourse. Moreover, just five were aware of the alternative method of the intrauterine contraceptive device, which is effective up to five days after intercourse. Interestingly, of 100 men who were interviewed, only 38 had heard of emergency contraception.
This survey reinforces Pearson and colleagues' conclusion that we need to improve sexual health education. Only a fifth of the women in our study who had heard of postcoital contraception had learnt about it at school; three fifths had learnt about it from a friend.