Bringing emergency contraception over the counter: experiences of nonprescription users in France, Norway, Sweden and Portugal

Contraception. 2003 Aug;68(2):117-24. doi: 10.1016/s0010-7824(03)00114-8.


Emergency contraceptive pills are now available on a nonprescription basis in over 25 countries worldwide. In an effort to learn about women's experiences with this new means of emergency contraception (EC) service delivery, we conducted focus-group discussions with nonprescription EC users from France, Norway, Portugal and Sweden. Participants from these countries overwhelming supported pharmacy access to EC, explaining that pharmacy delivery facilitated rapid access to the method. Despite expressing mixed reviews of the counseling given by the providing pharmacists, participants reported that they knew how use the method safely and properly. Most indicated that the package insert was easy to understand and adequately answered the majority of their questions. Participants described the EC experience as a motivating factor that, in many cases, has led to more consistent use of regular contraceptive methods. These data are valuable to policy-makers and institutions interested in learning more about the safety and acceptability of nonprescription access to emergency contraceptive pills.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Access to Information
  • Attitude
  • Contraception, Postcoital / adverse effects
  • Contraception, Postcoital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • France
  • Humans
  • Nonprescription Drugs / standards*
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden


  • Nonprescription Drugs