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Article

Women have varied motivations for adopting emergency contraception pills vs the copper IUD as emergency contraception

We explored why young women choose a particular method of emergency contraception (EC), whether EC pills or the copper IUD. We interviewed young women accessing EC at clinics that offered both EC pills and the copper IUD as standard EC practice and at no cost to the patient.

We found that women had varied reasons for preferring one type of EC method over another. Women who chose EC pills over the IUD for EC expressed discomfort with the IUD placement procedure and possible side effects, had previous bad experiences using an IUD, and lacked awareness about the IUD as an EC option. Women who chose the copper IUD over EC pills did so because they were aware that it was an option, it was readily available, they were comfortable with its features, and because they had no prior negative experiences using an IUD. Some women who were not offered the IUD reported they would have preferred it over EC pills.  

We found that barriers to accessing EC persist, even in locations where both EC pills and the IUD are available as standard EC practice. There is a need to support young women’s decisions to use either EC method, to destigmatize repeat use of EC pills, and to improve access of the IUD for EC.

To learn more about the study, “Exploring young women’s reasons for adopting intrauterine or oral emergency contraception in the United States: a qualitative study,” visit BMC Women’s Health

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ANSIRH is a program within the UCSF Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health and is a part of UCSF's Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences.

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