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Are affluent, well-educated, career-orientated women knowledgeable users of the oral contraceptive pill?
  1. Megan van der Westhuizen, MB BCh, General Practitioner and Postgraduate Student and
  2. David Hall, FCOG(SA), MD, Associate Professor and Principal Specialist
  1. Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Tygerberg Hospital and Stellenbosch University, Tygerberg, South Africa
  1. Correspondence to Professor David R Hall, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Hospital, PO Box 19063, Tygerberg 7505, South Africa. Tel: +27 21 938 9059. Fax: +27 21 932 2455. E-mail: drh{at}


Objective Studies have shown poor knowledge of oral contraceptives among women attending government health clinics and women in rural areas. Little is known about the level of contraceptive knowledge in educated, affluent, career-orientated women, although it could be expected that access to information would be greater. The study objective was to describe the profile, knowledge and understanding of oral contraceptive users in a private general practice in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Methods Over a period of 3 months, all women attending a private general practice who were using an oral contraceptive were asked to complete an anonymous questionnaire. Informed written consent was obtained in all cases.

Results Fifty-one women participated in the study. Most women were nulliparous (71%), held a tertiary educational qualification (80%), were employed (84%) and were not concerned about the cost of their pill (65%). Most respondents (86%) obtained their information from a doctor. However, only 12% of women were aware of the danger of extending the active pill-free interval. Less than half (49%) were aware that their pill was less effective if taken more than 12 hours late and only 31% of women knew that their pill was effective again after taking seven active tablets.

Conclusions Educated, affluent women attending a private general practice lacked basic knowledge of the oral contraceptive pill. Consultations by practitioners need to be improved.

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