Termination of pregnancy following panic-stopping of oral contraceptives

Contraception. 2002 Sep;66(3):163-7. doi: 10.1016/s0010-7824(02)00341-4.


This study assessed characteristics of women presenting for termination of pregnancy subsequent to stopping combined oral contraceptive use in response to publicity-mediated fears regarding venous thromboembolism. Records of 400 women attending for pregnancy termination assessment were reviewed retrospectively. Panic-stopping of oral contraceptives was implicated in 9.5%. Nearly 50% of combined pill users claimed their pregnancy resulted from panic-stopping because of media-promoted fear of health risks, especially 'clots.' Panic-stoppers had significantly lower identified risk factors for venous thromboembolism than pill users who had not panic-stopped. The relative safety of third-generation pills is under debate. The risk-benefit ratio of contraceptive pills is overwhelmingly positive but practitioners must be vigilant in screening for risk factors and contraindications. Panic-stopping results in unwanted pregnancies with concomitant psychological distress and potential physical morbidity. In future situations where research findings may precipitate drug scares, we recommend recall of patients by their health provider, funded by the relevant health authority or pharmaceutical companies, to allow discussion of risks before the media is enabled to have access to the information.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adult
  • Contraceptives, Oral / administration & dosage*
  • Contraceptives, Oral / adverse effects*
  • Fear
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mass Media
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Parity
  • Pregnancy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Venous Thrombosis / chemically induced*


  • Contraceptives, Oral