Objectives: To encourage healthcare professionals to counsel women seeking combined hormonal contraceptives (CHCs) about alternative CHCs and to study the influence of counselling on women's selection of CHCs.
Methods: Women (15-40 years old) in 11 countries who consulted HCPs about CHCs were counselled about the pill, transdermal patch, and vaginal ring. Both the HCPs and the women completed questionnaires.
Results: Of women who were counselled (n = 18,787), 47% selected another CHC method than originally planned. One in four who intended to use the pill chose another method (16% chose the patch; 65% chose the ring). In total, patch use increased from 5% -8% (difference = 3.7% [97.5% CI: 3.3-4.2]; p < 0.0001). Ring use nearly quadrupled from 8% -30% (difference = 21.7% [97.5% CI: 21.0-22.5]; p < 0.0001). Nearly all women who were undecided prior to counselling selected a method after counselling. Selection of the pill increased most in Russia (+ 11%) and Sweden (+ 5%); patch selection was greatest in Russia (+ 7%) and Israel (+ 6%); ring use increased most in Ukraine and in the Czech Republic and Slovakia (+ 36%).
Conclusions: Counselling increases use of alternative CHCs, such as the patch and the ring. Considerable differences between countries were noted.