Use of prescription contraceptive methods in the UK general population: a primary care study
Article first published online: 1 OCT 2013
© 2013 Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology
Volume 121, Issue 1, pages 53–61, January 2014
How to Cite
Use of prescription contraceptive methods in the UK general population: a primary care study. BJOG 2014;121:53–61., , , .
- Issue published online: 20 DEC 2013
- Article first published online: 1 OCT 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 22 JUL 2013
- Bayer Pharma AG
- The Health Improvement Network;
To determine prescription contraceptive use in the UK.
Observational study using a primary care database.
The Health Improvement Network (THIN).
Women in THIN aged 12–49 years in 2008, registered with their primary care doctor for at least 5 years, and with a prescription history of at least 1 year were included.
THIN was searched using the Read and MULTILEX codes for the following methods: combined oral contraceptives (COCs), progestogen-only pills (POPs), copper intrauterine devices (Cu-IUDs), the levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system (LNG-IUS), progestogen-only implants, progestogen-only injections, and contraceptive patches.
Main outcome measures
Prevalence, switching, and duration of prescriptions.
A cohort of 194 054 women was identified. The prevalence of contraceptive use was: COCs, 16.2% (95% confidence interval, 95% CI 16.1–16.3%); POPs, 5.6% (95% CI 5.5–5.6%); Cu-IUD, 4.5% (95% CI 4.4–4.5%); LNG-IUS, 4.2% (95% CI 4.1–4.2%); progestogen-only implants, 1.5% (95% CI 1.5–1.6%); progestogen-only injections, 2.4% (95% CI 2.3–2.4%); and contraceptive patches, 0.1% (95% CI 0.1–0.2%). Within 1 year, 9.8% of new COC users switched to alternative COCs, and 9.0% changed to a different method. Among new COC users who did not switch method, 34.8% did not continue use beyond 3 months, and were no longer using a prescription contraceptive.
Among users of oral contraceptives who did not switch method, over one-third did not continue use beyond 3 months. This supports current UK guidelines recommending a follow-up consultation with a healthcare professional 3 months after the first prescription of COCs.