Conventional oral contraceptive (OC) starting instructions require waiting until menses to begin the OC. The conventional approach requires detailed patient education about when to begin and also may require the use of less effective or less acceptable interim contraceptive protection until menses. At our urban family planning clinic, we routinely offer patients starting the OC the option of taking the first tablet sooner. We prospectively evaluated predictors of short-term OC continuation among 250 OC requestors who were offered several approaches to OC initiation. Telephone follow-up of 91% of participants showed that women who swallowed the first OC in the clinic were more likely to continue the OC until the second package than women who planned to start the OC later (adjusted OR 2.8, 95% C.I. 1.1-7.3). Other factors associated with short-term continuation were: partner's knowledge of planned OC use, older age, and participant's agreement that she would be very unhappy about becoming pregnant in the next 6 months.
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