European women’s survey on oral contraceptive use

European women’s survey on oral contraceptive use

C. Benedetto (1), G. Lounsbach (2)

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Turin, Turin, Italy

(1); Organon International Inc., Roseland, NJ, USA (2)

Introduction: Whilst oral contraceptives (OCs) effectively prevent

pregnancy, their effectiveness is dependent on user compliance. Many women use

OCs, some for several years, and may find daily pill taking a burden. The aim of

this large European survey was to collect information on women’s behaviour and

attitudes towards oral contraceptives.

Design and Methods: Telephone interviews were conducted in the

Netherlands, Germany, Spain, France and Italy by female interviewers. Over 2000

women aged 18–40 years were interviewed (approximately 450 per country) about

usage (current and past Pill use), attitude (perceived advantages and

disadvantages), compliance (forgetting the Pill, frequency and causes) and

preferences (frequency of intake and ideal form of contraceptive).

Results: A total of 2278 women took part in the survey. Of these,

78.6% had experience of Pill use (36.4% current users; 42.2% ex Pill users). The

Pill was the most frequently used method of contraception in all countries (63%

overall for current contraceptive users; n=1300) except for Spain where it was

second to the condom. The Netherlands and France had the highest numbers of

current Pill users (both 52%). The most frequently mentioned advantages of the

Pill mentioned by current users (n=796) were reliability (60.2%), ease of use

(45%) and regulation of periods (29.8%). Disadvantages mentioned by current and

ex Pill users (n=1816) were forgetting to take it (42%), the physical burden of

taking hormones (28.9%) and weight gain (21%). Of the current Pill users, 68%

reported forgetting to take the Pill and of these women, 22.9% forgot one or

more pills every month. The average frequency of missed Pills was 1 per month.

The countries with the highest proportion of Pill users who missed pills on a

regular basis were the Netherlands (80%) followed by France (70%). The most

common reasons for forgetting the Pill were stress (23.3%), the occurrence of

unexpected events (22.3%) and no particular reason (19.2%). When asked to give a

spontaneous answer about what would be their ideal contraceptive (open-ended

question), most (11.8%) women favored an oral method over insertion or injection

methods, yet only 7.8% liked a daily method. The majority (79%) of women

surveyed preferred a method that can be taken monthly or less.

Conclusions: The survey found that approximately two-thirds (68%) of

women currently using the Pill forget to take it with the average frequency of

one pill per month. The countries where Pill use was most frequent were also the

ones where women were less careful about taking it. For those surveyed, the

ideal contraceptive was administered once -a- month or less.

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