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Sales of "morning after" pills soar after New Year’s Day

A recent study highlights a significant increase in sales of “morning after” pills in the United States following the New Year holiday. This 10% spike indicates a higher risk of unprotected sex during this period compared to other holidays.

Comparison with other holidays

While Valentine’s Day and Independence Day also report increased sales, the New Year’s rise is more pronounced. This trend is particularly concerning given the increasing abortion restrictions in many US states, underscoring an unmet need for contraceptive services.

The study points out that New Year’s Eve celebrations often coincide with less protected sexual activity, increased alcohol consumption, higher rates of sexual assault, and limited access to contraceptive options due to the holiday hours of clinics and stores.

Detailed analysis of “morning after” pill sales

Researchers delved into the sales data of levonorgestrel, an over-the-counter “morning after” pill, from 2016 to 2022. The analysis focused on sales in the week following New Year’s Eve and Day across various US retail outlets, adjusting for the size of the female population aged 15 to 44.

The study also examined other holidays associated with unprotected sex, including Valentine’s Day, Independence Day, and St. Patrick’s Day, each showing a smaller increase in emergency contraception sales. Notably, holidays like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Easter did not show similar trends.

Critical role of emergency contraception

The study acknowledges limitations, such as the inability to equate sales directly with usage and the exclusion of data from certain sources. However, the findings are significant for public health, highlighting the need for targeted interventions during holidays to reduce risks associated with unprotected sex.

“More than ever, emergency contraception is a critically important option for people in the US, particularly those living in regions with bans or severe restrictions on abortion,” the researchers write. “Future work will explore how other dynamics at play in the US context, including state abortion restrictions, affect emergency contraception purchasing behavior and imply potential public health interventions to provide contraceptive care to those who need it the most.”

In light of restrictive abortion laws, emergency contraception becomes an essential option, particularly in affected regions. The research team aims to further explore how these dynamics influence purchasing behaviors and identify public health interventions for effective contraceptive care.

The full study was published in journal The BMJ.


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