March 1, 2013 — One in nine sexually experienced women ages 15 to 44 used emergency contraception at least once from 2006 through 2010, more than doubling the proportion of women who had used it in 2002, according to a report from CDC's National Center for Health Statistics. By age group, women ages 20 to 24 were the most likely to have used EC, with nearly one in four of these women using it at least once between 2006 and 2010.
FDA first approved EC for prescription-only use in 1998. Today, most EC brands are available without a prescription to women ages 17 and older, while individuals under age 17 must obtain a prescription.
Most women who had used EC had done so once or twice. About the same proportion of women reported using EC because they feared their contraceptive method had failed (45%) as reported using it because they had unprotected sex (49%).
Women with a bachelor's degree or higher were more likely than those with less than a high school education to report using EC because of a fear of method failure. By contrast, the proportion of women who used EC because of unprotected sex was lower among more highly educated women than less educated women (Daniels et al., NCHS Data Brief, 2/14).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership