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Morning after pill linked to increase in STIs, study shows
Date:1/31/2011

Offering the morning after pill free over the counter has not reduced the number of teenage pregnancies and may be associated with a rise in sexually-transmitted diseases (STIs), according to a report by experts at The University of Nottingham.

Professors David Paton and Sourafel Girma used local health authority data to study the impact that the introduction of Government-backed schemes to offer emergency birth control at pharmacies and without prescription have had on conception rates and the diagnosis of STIs among under-18s.

Their findings show that, on average, areas operating a pharmacy emergency birth control (EBC) scheme saw an overall increase of five percent in the rate of STIs among teenagers 12 per cent in the under-16s age group. The study also found that EBC schemes may actually be associated with a small increase in the number of teens falling pregnant.

Increased access to EBC has been a key part of the Government's Teenage Pregnancy Strategy which was introduced in 1999 and aimed to halve teenage pregnancy rates by 2010. However, as funding and implementation was devolved to local levels, local health authorities have been able to decide on whether to devote money to increasing access to EBC.

Specifically, since the start of 2000, local authorities in England have been encouraged to introduce scheme that offer EBC free of charge, over the counter at pharmacies to teenagers under the age of 16. Although an increasing number of local authorities have introduced schemes, they have come into force at different times and some have decided against it altogether.

Historically, a number of studies have been conducted looking at the impact of easier access to contraception and legalising abortion and a review of 23 of these reports in 2007 revealed that none found any significant decreases in unwanted pregnancies or abortion rates.

The Nottingham researchers, who are economists in the Nottingham Uni
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Contact: Emma Thorne
emma.thorne@nottingham.ac.uk
44-115-951-5793
University of Nottingham
Source:Eurekalert

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