Gatny, Heather, Yasamin Kusunoki, and Jennifer Barber. 2018. "Pregnancy Scares and Change in Contraceptive Use." Contraception 98(4):260-265.
We examined whether the experience of a “pregnancy scare” is related to subsequent changes in contraceptive use that increase the risk of undesired pregnancy.
We used data from the Relationship Dynamics and Social Life (RDSL) study, which interviewed a random, population-based sample of 1,003 young women weekly for 2.5 years. We used multivariate regression models to predict the effect of experiencing a pregnancy scare on change in contraceptive use.
We found pregnancy scares are associated with changes in contraceptive use that increase the risk of pregnancy. Experiencing a pregnancy scare is related to discontinued contraceptive use, change from consistent to inconsistent use of contraception, and change from a more effective to a less effective method of contraception. We also found pregnancy scares are associated with continued inconsistent use of contraception.
Our findings suggest that the experience of a pregnancy scare does not serve as a “wake-up call” to start using contraception, to start using it consistently, or to switch to a more effective method to reduce the risk of undesired pregnancy. Instead, contraceptive use after a pregnancy scare typically remains the same or worsens.
Clinicians should be aware that young women who have experienced pregnancy scares may be at increased risk of undesired pregnancy, relative to young women who did not experience a pregnancy scare.