Contraceptive use and discontinuation: Findings from the contraceptive history, initiation, and choice study

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The purpose of this study is to provide insight on the continuing high rate of unintended pregnancy among adult women.

Study design

Contracepting women were recruited while they waited for primary care appointments. A total of 369 completed the baseline questionnaire, and 145 oral contraceptive (OC) users were enrolled in a 5-week, diary-based study of adherence and sexual activity.


Most women who reported having discontinued OCs did so because of medical side effects, and most had switched to less effective methods. Among OC users, 26.4% had sexual intercourse on days they missed pills just before or after their placebo week. Nonadherence did not differ by socioeconomic factors or obesity.


Clinicians may need to encourage their patients to discuss their reasons for wanting to discontinue the use of an effective contraceptive method and assist them with their concerns or to switch to other effective methods to protect themselves from unintended pregnancy.

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