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Exploring Potential Interest in Missed Period Pills in two US States

Gynuity and colleagues conducted a study to evaluate interests in “missed period pills” as a potential new way to offer mifepristone and misoprostol for treatment of delayed menses without prior pregnancy confirmation. The pills would terminate a pregnancy if one were present. The main aim of this study was to explore potential interest in missed period pills in the United States. We conducted the study in two states: one in the northeast with no major abortion restrictions; and one in the midwest with multiple major abortion restrictions.

We enrolled people seeking pregnancy test services at nine health centers. A total of 678 people completed the anonymous survey and 42% indicated interest in missed period pills. Interest was greatest (70%) among those who would be unhappy if pregnant. Variables associated with interest in the multivariate analyses were age ≥35, nulliparity, prior abortion and contraceptive use, recent use of emergency contraception, pregnancy feelings and intentions, and abortion attitudes (p<.05). Variables not associated with interest included state of residence, educational attainment, ethnicity, religious affiliation, and frequency of religious attendance. Key reasons for interest were to prevent, avoid or terminate pregnancy; and psychological or emotional benefits, including management of abortion stigma. Reasons for non-interest included concerns about safety or side effects, desire to be pregnant or have a baby, and not wanting to abort or hurt the fetus/baby.

Our findings offer a unique window into the service preferences of people with early missed periods who seek care at reproductive health centers. They suggest that some people do not desire pregnancy confirmation before taking medications that might disrupt a pregnancy. As a result, if missed period pills were an option in the United States, demand might be substantial and wide-ranging across demographic groups. In light of this, an important next step is to assess the feasibility, acceptability and use of an actual missed period pills service.

Access the abstract.