Objective To measure the level of repeat use of emergency contraception (EC) in family planning clinics (FPCs) in North and East Devon.
Design An audit of repeat use of EC was carried out in seven FPCs, in parallel with a client survey. All women seeking EC in the study period were included (n = 572).
Results Nearly 70% of women had 'ever' used EC prior to the study visit; over half had previously used EC in the year of the study; a quarter had previously used EC three or more times in the same period. Teenagers were more likely to have previously used EC in the study year, but half of all repeat users were aged 20 and older. Asked why EC was needed today, most women reported current use of regular contraception, but almost a quarter had had unprotected sex, and half reported a condom mishap.
Conclusions These results show frequent repeat use of EC and do not support recent research based on general practice records, which suggests that repeat use is rare. If EC users use multiple sources of EC, or prefer alternative sources, repeat use of EC will be underestimated if calculated using general practitioner (GP) records alone.
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