Number of OC packages dispensed and subsequent unintended pregnancies

January 01, 0001

Number of OC packages dispensed and subsequent unintended pregnancies

These US authors estimated how number of oral contraceptive pill packages dispensed relates to subsequent pregnancies and abortions. They linked 84,401 women who received oral contraceptives through the California family planning program in January 2006 to Medi-Cal pregnancy events and births conceived in 2006. They compared pregnancy rates for women who received a 1-year supply of oral contraceptive pills, three packs, and one pack.

They found: "Women who received a 1-year supply were less likely to have a pregnancy (1.2% compared with 3.3% of women getting three cycles of pills and 2.9% of women getting one cycle of pills). Dispensing a 1-year supply is associated with a 30% reduction in the odds of conceiving an unplanned pregnancy compared with dispensing just one or three packs and a 46% reduction in the odds of an abortion, controlling for age, race or ethnicity, and previous pill use."

The authors concluded: "Making oral contraceptives more accessible may reduce the incidence of unintended pregnancy and abortion. Health insurance programs and public health programs may avert costly unintended pregnancies by increasing dispensing limits on oral contraceptives to a 1-year supply."

The bottom line seems to be to make it easy for women to have their oral contraceptive pills.

For the full abstract, click here.

Obstet Gynecol 117(3):566-572, March 2011
© 2011 to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecolgists
Number of Oral Contraceptive Pill Packages Dispensed and Subsequent Unintended Pregnancies. Diana Greene Foster, Denis Hulett, Mary Bradsberry, Philip Darney Michael Policar.

Category: W. Pregnacy, Family Planning. Keywords: oral contraceptives, unintended pregnancy, abortion, secondary analysis of databases, journal watch.
Synopsis edited by Dr Linda French, Toledo, Ohio. Posted on Global Family Doctor 3 May 2011

Pearls are an independent product of the Cochrane primary care group and are meant for educational use and not to guide clinical care.