BACKGROUND: Progestin-only oral contraceptive pills (POPs) have fewer contraindications to use compared to combined pills. However, the overall prevalence of contraindications to POPs among reproductive aged women has not been assessed.
STUDY DESIGN: We collected information on contraindications to POPs in two studies : 1) the Self-Screening Study, a sample of 1,267 reproductive aged women in the general population in El Paso, Texas and 2) the Prospective Study of Oral Contraceptive (OC) Users, a sample of current OC users who obtained their pills in El Paso clinics (n=532) or over the counter (OTC) in Mexican pharmacies (n=514). In the Self-Screening Study, we also compared women’s self-assessment of contraindications using a checklist to a clinicain’s evaluation.
RESULTS: Only 1.6% of women in the Self-Screening Study were identified as having at least one contraindication to POPs. The sensitivity of the checklist for identifying women with at least one contraindication was 75.0% (95% CI: 50.6-90.4%), and the specificity was 99.4% (95% CI: 98.8-99.7%). In total, 0.6% of women in the Prospective Study of OC Users reported having any contraindication to POPs. There were no significant differences between clinic and OTC users.
CONCLUSION: The prevalence of contraindications to POPs was very low in these samples. POPs may be the best choice for the first OTC oral contraceptive in the US.