Advance provision of emergency contraception for pregnancy prevention

Cochrane Review by Polis CB, Grimes DA, Schaffer K, Blanchard K, Glasier A, Harper C

This record should be cited as: Polis CB, Grimes DA, Schaffer K, Blanchard K, Glasier A, Harper C. Advance provision of emergency contraception for pregnancy prevention. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2007, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD005497. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD005497.pub2.



Advance provision of emergency contraception for pregnancy prevention


Emergency contraception can prevent pregnancy when taken after unprotected intercourse.Obtaining emergency contraception within the recommended time frame is difficult for many women. Advance provision could circumvent some obstacles to timely use.


To summarize randomized controlled trials evaluating advance provision of emergency contraception to explore effects on pregnancy rates, sexually transmitted infections, and sexual and contraceptive behaviors.

Search strategy

In November 2009, we searched CENTRAL, EMBASE, POPLINE,MEDLINE via PubMed, and a specialized emergency contraception article database. We also searched reference lists and contacted experts to identify additional published or unpublished trials.

Selection criteria

We included randomized controlled trials comparing advance provision and standard access (i.e., counseling whichmay ormay not have included information about emergency contraception, or provision of emergency contraception on request at a clinic or pharmacy).

Data collection and analysis

Two reviewers independently abstracted data and assessed study quality. We entered and analyzed data using RevMan 5.0.23.

Main results

Eleven randomized controlled trials met our criteria for inclusion, representing 7695 patients in the United States, China, India and Sweden. Advance provision did not decrease pregnancy rates (odds ratio (OR) 0.98, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.76 to 1.25 in studies for which we included twelve-month follow-up data; OR 0.48, 95% CI 0.18 to 1.29 in a study with seven-month follow-up data; OR 0.92, 95% CI 0.70 to 1.20 in studies for which we included six-month follow-up data; OR 0.49, 95% CI 0.09 to 2.74 in a study with three-month follow-up data), despite reported increased use (single use: OR 2.47, 95% CI 1.80 to 3.40; multiple use: OR 4.13, 95% CI 1.77 to 9.63) and faster use (weighted mean difference (WMD) -12.98 hours, 95% CI -16.66 to -9.31 hours). Advance provision did not lead to increased rates of sexually transmitted infections (OR 1.01, 95% CI 0.75 to 1.37), increased frequency of unprotected intercourse, or changes in contraceptive methods.Women who received emergency contraception in advance were equally likely to use condoms as other women.

Authors' conclusions

Advance provision of emergency contraception did not reduce pregnancy rates when compared to conventional provision. Results from primary analyses suggest that advance provision does not negatively impact sexual and reproductive health behaviors and outcomes. Women should have easy access to emergency contraception, because it can decrease the chance of pregnancy.However, the interventions tested thus far have not reduced overall pregnancy rates in the populations studied.


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