May 2006

Barriers to contraceptive use in product labeling and practice guidelines

Grossman D, Ellertson C, Abuabara K, Blanchard K, Rivas F. Barriers to contraceptive use in product labeling and practice guidelines. American Journal of Public Health. May 2006; 96(5):791-799.

Many contraceptives are encumbered with potentially unnecessary restrictions on their use. Indeed, fear of side effects, fostered by alarmist labeling, is a leading reason that women do not use contraceptives.

In the United States, hormonal methods currently require a prescription, although research suggests that women can adequately screen themselves for contraindications, manage side effects, and determine an appropriate initiation date, leaving little need for routine direct physician involvement. Sizing, spermicidal use, and length-of-wear limits burden users of cervical barriers and may be unnecessary. Despite recent changes in the labeling of intrauterine devices, clinicians commonly restrict use of this method and in some countries may limit the types of providers authorized to insert them.

Although in some cases additional research is necessary, existing data indicate that evidence-based demedicalization of contraceptive provision could reduce costs and improve access.