A new study shows use of the morning-after pill is on the rise in the U.S. 5.8 million women have used the emergency contraception, according to a new federal report released Thursday. Up to 11 percent of sexually experienced women surveyed ages 15-44 reported using the pill, compared to 4 percent in 2002.
Conducting in-person interviews with over 12,000 women, researchers found use of the pill was most popular among young women aged 20-24 who had never married. About 1 in 4 women in their early twenties took the pill.
41 percent of those who used the pill reported using it more than once. Reasons given were divided between fearing that the contraception they used during intercourse had failed or they simply had unprotected sex.
This is the first government study of its kind since the Food and Drug Administration approved the morning-after pill in 1998. The new study comes out while religious groups are challenging the Affordable Health Care Act, which aims to cover the cost of the morning-after pill, if the patient has a prescription.
In recent years women have been given more access to the morning-after pill, which is now available without a prescription. The emergency contraceptive can be used up to 5 days after intercourse.
The morning-after pill should not be confused with the “abortion pill,” warns Beth Jordan Mynett, medical director of the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, based in Washington, D.C. “Emergency contraception does not cause an abortion. You take emergency contraception pills to largely prevent ovulation from happening. This is pregnancy prevention,” she says.
The report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention uncovered several other trends in contraceptive use since 1982:
- Condom use among males rose from 52 percent in 1982 to 93 percent from 2006-2010.
- Nearly 30 percent of sexually experience women have used five or more different methods of birth control.
- About 1-in-5 women who never married report taking the morning-after pill, compared to just 1-in-20 married women.
The study also showed the number of women using birth control pills, about 82 percent, has remained stable over time. Despite no increase in the number of women using the birth control pill, the number of women using injections, intrauterine and patches devices has increased.