ObjectiveWe examined whether the experience of a ìpregnancy scareî is related to subsequent changes in contraceptive use that increase the risk of unintended pregnancy.
We used data from the Relationship Dynamics and Social Life (RDSL) study, which interviewed a random, population-based sample of 1003 young women weekly for 2.5 years. We used multivariate regression models to predict the effect of experiencing a pregnancy scare on change in contraceptive use.
We found pregnancy scares are associated with changes in contraceptive use that increase the risk of pregnancy. Experiencing a pregnancy scare is related to discontinued contraceptive use, change from consistent to inconsistent use of contraception, and change from a more effective to a less effective method of contraception. We also found pregnancy scares are associated with continued inconsistent use of contraception.
Our findings suggest that the experience of a pregnancy scare does not serve as a ìwake-up callî to start using contraception, to start using it consistently, or to switch to a more effective method to reduce the risk of unintended pregnancy. Instead, contraceptive use after a pregnancy scare typically remains the same or worsens.