need for easy availability of EC is fraught with concerns regarding its impact
on sexual behaviour, especially of youth. We analyzed data from two studies on
247 patients recruited for emergency contraception between 1996-2000 from gynaecological
OPD at All India Institute of Medical Sciences, family planning clinics, urban
health dispensaries, health melas, urban slums and the patients referred by non-governmental
Analysis was done in reference
to EC userís age, marital status, parity, place of residence, socio-economic status,
level of education, religion and previous use of contraception and abortion.
It was observed that most (91.4%) of our EC acceptors were literate young women
in their third decade of life (only 6% were less than 20 years of age). Majority
(72%) belonged to middle socio-economic strata and were in stable monogamous married
life (95.6%). Three-fourths of our subjects had used one or the other form of
contraceptive earlier but were not regular users. As many as sixty-one women (24.6%)
had resorted to medical termination of an unwanted pregnancy before using EC.
Even though contraceptive use is uncommon in nulliparous, 19.4% of our subjects
were nulliparous, 29.5% had one and 37.5% had two living children with a keen
desire to limit the family size. However, the women were largely unaware of the
existence of such a `back-up' measure and only five subjects had earlier used
Our study thus verifies the high rate
of unwanted pregnancies reported by National Family Health Survey (24.6% vs 25%).
It stresses the need for increasing the use of regular contraception and promoting
EC as a back-up measure for preventing unplanned pregnancy. Easy availability
of EC, by itself, may not increase promiscuity, but the users do need detailed
counselling and should be warned of the decreased efficacy following repeated
use of EC.
Most EC users in our study were
married, parous women and used EC to avoid an unplanned pregnancy.