Hormonal Contraceptive Users' Self-Reported Benefits, Adverse Reactions, and Fears in 2001 and 2007
Background: Hormonal contraceptives (HCs) are the most common contraceptive method in western countries. The fears and problems experienced by users of HCs can have an impact on their quality of life, and lead to abortions and unwanted pregnancies. Objective: To investigate whether experiences and perceptions of HC users in Finland have changed from 2001 to 2007. Methods: Data were collected using questionnaire surveys of women using HCs in 2001 and 2007. In Finland, HCs are available with a physician's prescription, and are only supplied in community and university pharmacies. University pharmacies in 12 large cities across Finland were selected to distribute the questionnaires. The response rate was 53% (n_=_264) in 2001 and 55% (n_=_436) in 2007. The average age of the respondents was 26 years in both surveys. The surveys measured self-reported benefits and adverse reactions, preconceptions, fears, knowledge, and opinions. Results: The number of HC users reporting fears increased from 2001 to 2007 (p_=_0.002), whereas the number of HC users reporting adverse reactions decreased (p_=_0.013). In both surveys, the most common fear was infertility after HC use (17% vs 26% for 2001 and 2007, respectively). In both surveys, the most common benefits were efficacy and regular menstrual cycle, and the most common adverse reactions were mood swings, lowered libido, and weight gain. Conclusions: Our study suggests that, although women using HCs were convinced about their benefits, and the number of users reporting adverse reactions had decreased from 2001 to 2007, the number of users reporting fears had increased. Healthcare professionals need to provide counseling in order to alleviate women's fears and to correct false perceptions of HCs. DOI: 10.2165/1312067-200801030-00004
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