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1 June 2006

Scotland: Pregnancy intention and contraceptive use

This study set out to measure pregnancy intention and its relationship with contraceptive use among women undergoing therapeutic abortion.

The authors note that most pregnancies ending in therapeutic abortion are assumed to have been unintended. In the developed world, most arise from inconsistent or incorrect contraceptive use. Ambivalence about pregnancy might be associated with less effective contraceptive use.

Three hundred sixteen women undergoing abortion in Scotland were interviewed about contraceptive use at the time of conception. A modified measure of pregnancy intendedness was used to determine ambivalence.

The results found that pregnancy appeared to be clearly unintended for 92% of women. Sixteen percent were not using contraception and had higher intendedness scores (p

<.001) than those using a method. Forty-four percent were using contraception inconsistently or incorrectly, almost always condoms or oral contraception, but method choice was not linked to pregnancy intendedness.

The authors concluded that women who are ambivalent about the desire for pregnancy are less likely to use contraception. The challenge for reducing abortion rates lies in improving contraceptive use among the much larger group of women who do not intend to get pregnant but use contraception imperfectly.

NHS Lothian Family Planning and Well Woman Services, Edinburgh, EH4 1NL Scotland, UK.

Measuring pregnancy intention and its relationship with contraceptive use among women undergoing therapeutic abortion. Schünmann C, Glasier A. Contraception. 2006 May;73(5):520-4.

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