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Keywords

emergency contraception, postcoital intervention, unintended pregnancy

 

Authors

  1. Devine, Kit S. MSN, ARNP, WHNP-BC

Abstract

OVERVIEW: Despite the availability of effective contraceptive methods, unintended pregnancy continues to be a significant health problem for women throughout the world. The reasons for unplanned pregnancy include failure to use contraception, incorrect use of contraception, unplanned consensual intercourse, and rape. Emergency contraception was once heralded as a means of reducing the rates of unintended pregnancy, elective abortion, and unwanted childbirth. But more than three decades after the first oral form was introduced, the use of emergency contraception remains suboptimal-even in the United States, where it is available to most women of childbearing age without a prescription. Nurses can help narrow this clinical gap in women's health care by increasing awareness of emergency contraception, correcting common misconceptions about its mechanism of action and potential adverse effects, and facilitating patient access.