Journal of Public Health Policy

, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 292–310

Association between increased availability of emergency contraceptive pills and the sexual and contraceptive behaviors of women

  • Danielle N Atkins
Original Article


In the United States (US), access to emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs) expanded to nationwide in 2006 when regulators allowed Plan B, a brand of emergency contraception, to be sold without prescription. Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2001 to 2010, I examined any association between increased access to these ECPs in the US and negative consequences. I found an association between increased access to ECPs and a 2.2 per cent higher probability of any sexual activity, a 5.2 per cent increase in the likelihood of reporting sex with multiple partners, an increase in the average number of partners by 0.35, and a −7.6 per cent decrease in the likelihood of injectable contraceptive use. These results suggest that policies in the US and other countries that expand access to ECPs should be paired with information on ECPs’ lack of protection against sexually transmitted infections and relatively lower efficacy compared to other forms of contraception.


emergency contraception risky sexual behaviors contraceptive use public health women’s health 


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Danielle N Atkins
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA

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