Clinical Edge

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Pregnancy Scares & Change in Contraceptive Use

Contraception; ePub 2018 Jul 26; Gatny, et al

Women who experienced a “pregnancy scare” did not start using contraception, use it more consistently, or switch to a more effective method to reduce the risk of unintended pregnancy, a new study found. Researchers used data from the Relationship Dynamics and Social Life (RDSL), which interviewed a random, population-based sample of 1,003 young women weekly for 2.5 years. Multivariate regression models were used to predict the effect of experiencing a pregnancy scare on change in contraceptive use. They found:

  • Pregnancy scares are associated with changes in contraceptive use that increase the risk of pregnancy.
  • Women who experience a pregnancy scare discontinued pregnancy use, changed from consistent to inconsistent use of contraception, and changed from a more effective to a less effective method of contraception.
  • Pregnancy scares were associated with continued inconsistent use of contraception.


Gatny H, Kusunoki Y, Barber J. Pregnancy scares and change in contraceptive use. [Published online ahead of print July 26, 2018]. Contraception. doi:10.1016/j.contraception.2018.07.134.