Birth control within reach: a national survey on women's attitudes toward and interest in pharmacy access to hormonal contraception

Contraception. 2006 Dec;74(6):463-70. doi: 10.1016/j.contraception.2006.07.006. Epub 2006 Oct 25.


Objective: This survey was conducted to better understand women's experiences with hormonal contraception and their interest in and attitudes toward gaining direct access to oral contraception (OC), patch, ring or emergency contraception (EC) in pharmacies.

Method: A nationally representative telephone survey of 811 women aged 18-44 years who were at risk for unintended pregnancy was conducted in the United States.

Results: It was found that 68% of women in the United States said they would use pharmacy access to OC, patch, ring and/or EC. Likely users include women not using contraception who would begin using hormonal contraceptives (41%) if they were available directly in pharmacies, and OC, patch or ring users who were interested in obtaining their method this way (66%). Over half of the women (55%) said they would be more likely to use EC if they were available directly in pharmacies. Interest in pharmacy access is higher among uninsured and low-income women. Support for pharmacy access hinges on pharmacist screening, with 63% of women agreeing that OC, patch and ring should be available without prescription if pharmacists screen women for medically safe use.

Conclusion: Most women in the United States believe that hormonal contraception should be available without prescription and would personally use pharmacy access. Seventeen to 22 million women constitute the potential market for pharmacy access to hormonal contraceptives in the United States. Women's enthusiasm for pharmacy access suggests that the pharmacy is an important site for the provision of sexual health education, screening and supplies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Cutaneous
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Awareness
  • Contraception / psychology*
  • Contraception Behavior*
  • Contraception, Postcoital / statistics & numerical data
  • Contraceptive Agents, Female / administration & dosage
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal
  • Data Collection
  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Humans
  • Intrauterine Devices
  • Pharmacies
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, Unplanned
  • United States


  • Contraceptive Agents, Female
  • Contraceptives, Oral, Hormonal