Emergency contraception (EC) has recently become available, accepted and widely used in Sweden but little is known about the characteristics and background factors of women requesting EC.
Methods: During a four-month period, consecutive women (n = 762) visiting family planning clinics to request emergency contraception filled out a questionnaire about their current need for EC.
Results: The user of emergency contraception was typically a nulligravid young woman (83%) but 13% had a previous history of at least one induced abortion and 41% had given birth in the past. One out of four had used EC before, and of these 20% more than once. Condom breakage was the major reason for the current need for EC but as many as 37% had not discussed the need for contraception prior to intercourse. Friends were the most important source of knowledge about EC.
Conclusion: Women requesting emergency contraception could be anyone and emergency contraception is used to compensate for contraceptive failure in order to prevent unwanted pregnancies.