Over-the-counter pill 'will not cut teenage pregnancy'

Over-the-counter provision of the pill will not cut unplanned teenage pregnancies, GP Sarah Jarvis argues in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) this week.

Contraceptive pill (Photograph: J H Lancy/HML)
Contraceptive pill (Photograph: J H Lancy/HML)

Dr Jarvis, women's health spokeswomen for the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), says that the problem with oral contraceptives is their reliability in practice. Compliance is poor and women who miss pills have a three times greater chance of unintended pregnancy.

‘There is great untapped opportunity for GPs to encourage young women to use long-acting contraceptives,' she says.

‘Rather than making a potentially unreliable method of contraception more easily available, our best avenue for reducing unplanned pregnancies is to encourage GPs to help their patients make the best choices.'

In an article accompanying Dr Jarvis's piece, Daniel Grossman of the University of California  argues that the requirement for a prescription is a barrier to contraceptive use by some women.

tom.moberly@haymarket.com

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