'It's a mega dose of hormones, isn't it?' Why women may be reluctant to use emergency contraception
Objective. To study knowledge, altitudes, beliefs and sources of knowledge about emergency contraception in a sample of sexually active women, combining quantitative and qualitative methods. Design. Self administered questionnaire to women attending family planning clinics in London and Oxfordshire and interviews with those attending for emergency contraception. Subjects. Five hundred and ten women completed the questionnaire. Fifty three women who were seeking emergency contraception also took part in a semi-structured interview. Results. The respondents were well informed about the time limits and effectiveness of emergency contraception, yet 43 per cent believed it to be more risky to their health than regular use of combined oral contraception and 15 per cent were very concerned about the possible side effects. Conclusion. Many women are likely to remain resistant to using a treatment which is perceived as a strong dose of potentially toxic chemicals. The consensus of professional opinion on the safety of hormonal emergency contraception is not reflected among family planning clients. This needs to be taken into account by both health professionals advising individual patients and publicity campaigns promoting the uptake of emergency contraception.