The remaining barriers to the use of emergency contraception: perception of pregnancy risk by women undergoing induced abortions

Contraception. 2005 Mar;71(3):202-7. doi: 10.1016/j.contraception.2004.09.004.


Although access to and knowledge of emergency contraception (EC) have improved, numerous unplanned pregnancies occur each year. We thus assessed the remaining barriers to EC use in a population of women seeking an abortion in four abortion centers in France in 2002. A self-administered questionnaire was completed by 1365 women. Most women have heard of EC (89%), but access to information remained limited in socially disadvantaged populations. Nevertheless, the unperceived risk of pregnancy appeared to be the most limiting factor to EC use. Only 38.5% of women were aware of pregnancy risk at the time of the intercourse that made them pregnant. Of these women, 48% minimized the risk later, resulting in the decision not to use EC. As the perception of risk is commonly reevaluated by women over time, which probably affects EC use, it could be important to promote advance supply of EC so that women could use it immediately after a recognized unprotected intercourse.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Ambulatory Care Facilities / statistics & numerical data
  • Contraception / statistics & numerical data*
  • Contraception Behavior / statistics & numerical data*
  • Educational Status
  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Employment
  • Female
  • France
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, Unwanted
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires