The number of American women using the "morning-after" emergency-contraceptive pill at least once has grown since it became more readily available over the counter in 2006, according to a new federal health report.
About 5.8 million sexually active women — one in nine — used the pill between 2006 and 2010, compared to just 4 percent in 2002, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most — 69 percent — used it only once, one in foud said they had used it twice, and 17 percent used it three times or more.
Emergency contraception has been available by prescription since 1998, but in 2006 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved allowing one version of the pill, known as Plan B, to be sold without a prescription. Plan B, which must be taken within days of unprotected sex, can prevent fertilization of an egg or its implantation in the uterus.
In 2010, the FDA approved another emergency contraceptive called ella, a prescription drug.
Among the CDC’s findings:
The CDC estimates roughly one-half of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended.
- In 2006–2010, among sexually experienced women, aged 15-44, roughly one in nine used emergency contraception.
- Young adult women, aged 20-24, were most likely to have used emergency contraception; about one in four had done so.
- Almost one in five never-married women and one in 20 currently or formerly married women used emergency contraception.
- Older women, non-Hispanic whites, and those with more education more often used emergency contraception because of fear of method failure, compared with women of other characteristics.
- Non-Hispanic black and Hispanic women and those with less education were more likely to have used emergency contraception because of unprotected sex, compared with other women.
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