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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 64  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 178-185

The use of emergency contraceptive pills in India: A meta-analysis

1 Independent Researcher, Prayas Health Group, Pune, Maharashtra, India
2 Senior Researcher, Prayas Health Group, Pune, Maharashtra, India

Correspondence Address:
Shrinivas S Darak
Prayas Amrita Clinic, Athawale Corner Building, Sambhaji Bridge Corner, Karve Road, Deccan Gymkhana, Pune - 411 004, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijph.IJPH_494_19

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Background: Unplanned pregnancies are a major public health concern. In India, 33% of an estimated 48.1 million pregnancies end in induced abortions. Emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs) can prevent pregnancy after sexual intercourse, have been part of India's family planning program since 2002–2003 and are available as over-the-counter drugs. While there are concerns about the overuse of ECPs, the pattern of use of ECPs in India is unknown. Objectives: The objective is to determine the proportion of women who have ever used ECPs and repeatedly used ECPs and also to assess the reasons for use and nonuse of EC pills along with factors associated with the use. Methods: A systematic review of ECP use in India was conducted by electronically searching three databases-PubMed, Popline, and Google Scholar. All studies were published between 2001 and 2017, and the electronic search was last conducted in July 2018. The proportion of use was calculated using meta-analysis, and the other factors were assessed by narratively synthesizing the findings. Thirty-three articles met the inclusion criteria. Results: The pooled proportion of women who ever used ECPs was 6% (95% confidence interval, 0.03–0.10). The proportion of repeat use ranged from 12% to 69%. Five studies reported reasons for not using ECPs, and the most common reasons were religious/cultural beliefs followed by fear of side effects and inadequate knowledge. Studies to understand sociodemographic and other factors affecting the use of ECPs in India are lacking. There are significant concerns about the quality of the studies. The definition of repeat use of ECPs is inconsistent across papers. Furthermore, judgmental attitudes of health-care providers were apparent in some papers. Conclusion: The review highlights important research and program gaps.

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