Original research article
Interest in a pericoital pill among women in family planning and
Diana Greene Foster
, M. Antonia Biggs
, Daniel Grossman
, Eleanor Bimla Schwarz
University of California San Francisco, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health,
Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), Oakland, CA 94612, USA
Ibis Reproductive Health, Oakland, CA 94612, USA
University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA
Received 7 December 2012; revised 15 January 2013; accepted 16 January 2013
Background: The purpose of this study was to determine whether women might be interested in repeated use of a pericoital pill, a pill taken
around the time of each act of intercourse.
Study Design: We surveyed women from abortion (n=635) and family planning (n=981) clinics regarding their interest in using a pericoital pill.
Results: Over two thirds (69%) of abortion and 50% of family planning clients said they would definitely or probably be interested in a
pericoital pill. Significant predictors of interest in a pericoital pill included race/ethnicity, ease of getting a birth control prescription, frequent
unprotected intercourse and seeking abortion services.
Conclusion: More work is needed to establish the effectiveness of a pericoital pill and determine how frequently a pericoital pill might be
used by women who currently have unprotected intercourse.
© 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Pericoital contraceptives; Access to care; Pregnancy prevention
A pericoital oral contraceptive, a pill that women would
take within a few hours before or after sexual intercourse,
enjoyed some popularity in Eastern Europe and Asia in the
1980s [1,2]. The most commonly used hormone for
pericoital contraception, levonorgestrel, is currently avail-
able in the United States as behind-the-counter emergency
contraception (EC). However, the dosage of levonorgestrel
in the progestin-only EC products is twice that of the most
common formulation of a pericoital pill (1.5 mg vs. 0.75
mg), and EC is not marketed for repeated use. A recent
Cochrane review [3,4] of repeated use of a pericoital pill
suggests that it is moderately effective and might have a
failure rate lower than that of condoms. The most common
side effect is irregular bleeding, similar to that experienced
with progestin-only contraceptives [4,5]. Studies from the
1970s and 1980s, conducted in Europe, Latin America and
Asia, indicate that most women found the pericoital pill
acceptable despite its side effects [3,4].
A pericoital pill may be a particularly attractive option for
the many couples who have regular unprotected intercourse
(UI). In the 3 months prior to seeking abortion services, clients
reported an average of 18 acts of UI , and family planning
clients with no history of abortion  report an average of 6.5
acts of UI in the past 3 months. Among both of these groups,
common reasons given for UI were that the couple was not
planning on having sex, they did not think there was a high
likelihood they would become pregnant and they had
difficulty accessing contraceptive methods. A pericoital pill
might address the needs of couples who seek spontaneity and
want to avoid pregnancy. A recent study of contraceptive
preferences  compared the features of a pericoital pill to
women's preferred contraceptive characteristics. Some fea-
tures of a pericoital pill, including control over when and
whether to use the method, female rather than male control
Contraception 88 (2013) 141 – 146
Corresponding author. Tel.: + 1 510 986 8940; fax: + 1 510 986 8960.
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firstname.lastname@example.org (D.G. Foster).
0010-7824/$ – see front matter © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.