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Socio-demographic profile of Emergency Contraception users
– Dr Suneeta Mittal, Dr M Lakhatia and Dr Shalini Singh, AIIMS, New Delhi

The 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 organizations.

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 an EC.

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.

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