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The Underutilization of Emergency Contraception

Devine, Kit S. MSN, ARNP, WHNP-BC

AJN, American Journal of Nursing:
doi: 10.1097/01.NAJ.0000413459.37863.02
Feature Articles

OVERVIEW: Despite the availability of effective contraceptive methods, unintended pregnancy continues to be a significant health problem for women throughout the world. The reasons for unplanned pregnancy include failure to use contraception, incorrect use of contraception, unplanned consensual intercourse, and rape. Emergency contraception was once heralded as a means of reducing the rates of unintended pregnancy, elective abortion, and unwanted childbirth. But more than three decades after the first oral form was introduced, the use of emergency contraception remains suboptimal—even in the United States, where it is available to most women of childbearing age without a prescription. Nurses can help narrow this clinical gap in women's health care by increasing awareness of emergency contraception, correcting common misconceptions about its mechanism of action and potential adverse effects, and facilitating patient access.

In Brief

Nurses can help increase awareness of emergency contraception, correct common misconceptions about its mechanism of action and potential adverse effects, and facilitate patient access.

Author Information

Kit S. Devine is the clinical director of Fertility and Endocrine Associates, coowner of the Louisville Reproductive Center, and an adjunct faculty member of the Lansing School of Nursing and Health Sciences at Bellarmine University, all in Louisville, KY. Contact author: The author has disclosed no potential conflicts of interest, financial or otherwise.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.