According to a report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of 15- to 44-year-old women who use emergency contraception, or the morning-after pill, has risen in the past decade.
The percentage of women who use emergency contraception rose from 4 percent in 2002 to 11 percent in 2010. About 5.8 million people have used the pill, according to the report.
The CDC report stated that 20- to 24-year-old women accounted for 23 percent of emergency contraception use. Emergency contraception has a high success rate of preventing pregnancy if taken up to five days after sex. The pill consists of a high-dose of Progestin, a main chemical in birth control pills, and costs between $35 and $60. The emergency contraception pill is different from the abortion pill, which is designed to terminate an existing pregnancy.
Phylis Craig, a nurse practitioner at the University of Florida Student Health Care Center, said the sharp increase could be due to extensive media coverage, promotion from women’s health practitioners, and the fact that women who are at least 17 can buy emergency contraception without a prescription. Craig said colleges and universities have taken measures to educate students on the proper use of contraception.
“We have several flyers and posters in our reception area,” said Craig said. “At the women’s center, it’s a big focus of ours.”
Craig said students typically know the proper use for the pill, but some people still have misconceptions about its use.
“I was happy to hear that it’s not being used as a routine form of contraception,” Craig said. “Women are not repeatedly using this over and over again. But it’s a general concern from the outside community that it’s an abortion pill.”
Craig said she is happy that emergency contraception is used but warns students to practice safe sex instead of relying on the morning-after pill.
“I always promote condom use,” she said.