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“I love my ECPs”: challenges to bridging emergency contraceptive users to more effective contraceptive methods in Ghana
  1. Kelly Ladin L'Engle1,
  2. Laura Hinson2,
  3. Dawn Chin-Quee3
  1. 1Behavioral and Social Sciences, FHI, Durham, NC, USA
  2. 2Department of Population, Family, and Reproductive Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA
  3. 3Program Sciences, FHI, Durham, NC, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Kelly Ladin L’Engle, FHI, PO Box 13950, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA; klengle{at}


Background and methods Emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs) are becoming more popular, yet little is known about the contraceptive preferences of women who take ECPs. Women purchasing ECPs were recruited from pharmacies in Accra, Ghana. A total of 24 semi-structured, qualitative interviews were conducted in May 2008.

Results Nearly all participants preferred ECPs to other contraceptive methods. Although fear of side effects from oral contraceptive pills (OCPs), intrauterine devices and injectables were deterrents to use of those methods, side effects from ECPs were acceptable to this small and highly self-selected group of ECP users. Participants had little knowledge about how other contraceptive methods work and expressed a strong distrust and dislike of condoms.

Discussion and conclusion Study participants loved their ECPs, despite minor discomforts like bleeding, and most had no concerns about repeated use, though these findings may not apply to women outside Accra or women who obtain ECPs from non-pharmacy settings. Future interventions should work to dispel myths about OCPs, condoms and other modern methods, and focus on basic contraception education.

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  • Funding Support for this research was provided by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of the Hewlett Foundation or of FHI.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval The Institutional Review Board of FHI and the Ghana Health Service Research Ethics Committee approved this study.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.