Determinants of emergency contraceptive use after unprotected intercourse: who seeks emergency contraception and who seeks abortion?

Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2012 Aug;91(8):959-64. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0412.2012.01429.x. Epub 2012 Jul 2.


Objective: To compare differences in contraceptive characteristics and the knowledge of emergency contraception (EC) between women who used EC after unprotected intercourse and those who sought abortion.

Design: A questionnaire survey.

Setting: A Hungarian university hospital.

Sample: Two large clinical groups were enrolled: women who were prescribed EC after unprotected intercourse (n= 952) (EC group) and women who presented for termination of pregnancy who had not taken EC after a contraceptive failure despite being suitable candidates to take EC (n= 577) (control group).

Methods: Questionnaire evaluation.

Main outcome measures: Knowledge concerning, previous use of, and other factors related to EC use.

Results: The EC group experienced a condom failure significantly more often (odds ratio (OR) = 3.07), while the control group reported more failures with the contraceptive pill (OR = 0.69) and with periodic abstinence (OR = 0.09). Use of EC depended on age, education level, place of residence, accurate knowledge of EC (OR = 3.87) and previous EC use (OR = 1.16). Awareness of EC was influenced by information obtained from healthcare providers (OR = 3.63) or by school education (OR = 1.28).

Conclusions: Women who use less reliable contraceptive methods should be targeted for health education that stresses the importance of reliable contraception and provides more detailed knowledge on EC and when it should be used.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Condoms / statistics & numerical data
  • Contraception, Postcoital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Contraceptives, Postcoital / administration & dosage*
  • Drug Prescriptions / statistics & numerical data*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hungary / epidemiology
  • Marital Status
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pregnancy
  • Sexual Abstinence


  • Contraceptives, Postcoital