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Emergency contraception prescriptions fall sharply in England

The number of emergency contraception prescriptions dispensed in the community in England has fallen sharply in the last decade, according to the latest official figures.

Data from NHS Digital revealed the number of prescriptions fell to 90,068 last year, an 18 per cent drop on the 110,378 dispensed in 2019 and 64 per cent fall on the 252,800 dispensed in 2010.

However, NHS Digital said data on the supply of EHC via patient group directives is not collected centrally.

There was also a drop in the number of items provided by sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and other community services, with 44,420 items provided in 2020-21 compared with 80,692 items in 2019-20.

Age was a key factor in women using an SRH service for emergency contraception. Women aged 18 to 19 were most likely, with nine per 1,000 using the service at least once in 2020-21 while 1,144 girls aged 13 to 15 were provided with emergency contraception by an SRH service at least once during that period.

Uptake of oral contraceptives fell from 45 per cent in 2014-15 to 39 per cent in 2020-21, although NHS Digital said they remained the most common method of contraception across all age groups except in the 45-and-over group.

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