Use of and attitudes towards emergency contraception: A survey of women in five European countries

Rossella E. Nappi, Paloma Lobo Abascal, Diana Mansour, Thomas Rabe, Raha Shojai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective To identify knowledge of and attitudes towards emergency contraception (EC) in women from five European countries. Methods In an internet-based survey, sexually active women aged 16 to 46 years from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK were asked about their use of and opinions on EC. Results Overall, 7170 women completed the survey. Thirty percent reported having had unprotected sexual intercourse during the previous 12 months (population at risk). Twenty-four percent of the population at-risk reported using EC. The most common reasons given for not using EC were: not perceiving themselves to be at risk of pregnancy; and not thinking about EC as an option. A third of respondents indicated they did not know how EC works, with several misconceptions about EC noted e.g., leading to infertility, similar to abortion. Seventy-nine percent of women agreed that EC is a responsible choice to prevent unwanted pregnancy, but nearly a third of women who used EC felt uncomfortable or judged when obtaining it. Conclusions EC is underutilised by three-quarters of the women surveyed. Women do not recognise they may be at risk of pregnancy when contraception fails. There are still several misbeliefs about EC indicating a need for better education of the public.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-101
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Contraception and Reproductive Health Care
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Attitudes
  • Contraception behaviour
  • Emergency contraception
  • Survey
  • Unprotected intercourse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Medicine(all)


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