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Repeated use of hormonal emergency contraception by younger women in the UK
  1. Sam Rowlands, MD, MRCGP, MFFP, Medical Director1,
  2. Hassy Devalia, MRPharmS, Operations Director1,
  3. Ross Lawrenson, MD, MRCGP, FAFPHM, Professor of Primary Health Care2,
  4. John Logie, PhD, Research Fellow2 and
  5. Bernard Ineichen, PhD, Senior Research Fellow2
  1. EPIC, Regeneration House, York Way, London, UK
  2. Postgraduate Medical School, European Institute of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey, UK
  1. Correspondence Sam Rowlands, Medical Director, Epic, Regeneration House, York Way, London, N1 0BB, UK. Tel: 020 7713 1118 Fax: 020 7713 1119 email: sam.rowlands{at}


A cohort of women aged 14–29 in 1993 was identified from the General Practice Research Database and followed up for a period of 4 years. Patient files were searched for evidence of use of emergency contraception and regular contraception. Of the 95 007 women, 15 105 (16%) had received emergency contraception during the study period (an average of 5% per annum). There was a small year on year increase in uptake of emergency contraception between 1994 and 1997. Only 4% of emergency contraception users received emergency contraception more than twice in any year. More than 70% of those who had no previous record of use of regular contraception had used regular contraception within 1 year of using emergency contraception. Teenagers were more likely than other age groups to use emergency contraception, to be repeat users of emergency contraception and to fail to start regular contraception after first use of emergency contraception until later in the study period.

These results disprove the notion of widespread repeated use of emergency contraception. They show that provision of an emergency contraception service does not result in failure to initiate regular contraception or abandonment of regular contraception; rather they show many women using regular contraception for the first time after use of emergency contraception.

  • attitude of health personnel
  • contraception behaviour
  • drug prescriptions
  • family planning
  • family practice
  • post-coital contraceptives
  • physician's practice patterns
  • sex behaviour

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