Abstract

Skip to text

Background
Keywords
Findings
Authors
What is already known on this subject?
What does this study add?

Text begins

Background

Oral contraceptives (OCs) have been available in Canada for over 50 years and are the most commonly used method of reversible contraception. OCs have evolved over time, with decreasing estrogen doses, new progestins, and different dosing regimens. Detailed data about OCs use among Canadian women are lacking.

Methods

Data from Statistics Canada’s 2007/2009 and 2009/2011 Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS) were used to estimate OC use, by selected sociodemographic characteristics, cardiovascular risk factors, and estrogen dose and progestin type. Logistic regression was used to model relationships between OC use and sociodemographic factors.

Results

An estimated 1.3 million (16%) women aged 15 to 49 reported taking OCs in the previous month. OC use decreased with age (30% among 15- to 19-year-olds; 3% among 40- to 49-year-olds). OC users were significantly more likely than non-users to be nulliparous, sexually active and Canadian-born. At ages 35 to 49, users were less likely than non-users to have one or more cardiovascular risk factors. Almost all (99%) OC users took combined formulations containing ethinyl estradiol (EE) and progestin. Two-thirds of OCs users took formulations containing 30 or more mcg of EE. Women aged 15 to 24 were more likely than those aged 35 to 49 to use lower-dose formulations (less than 30 mcg of EE).

Interpretation

A substantial percentage of reproductive-aged Canadian women, particularly younger women, used OCs. OC use varied by sociodemographic and some cardiovascular risk factors. The majority took formulations containing 30 or more mcg of EE.

Keywords

Contraception, estrogen, pregnancy prevention, progestin, reproductive health

Findings

Oral contraceptives (OCs) have been available in Canada for more than 50 years and are the most commonly used method of reversible contraception. They are also among the medications most frequently used by Canadian women, an estimated three-quarters of whom take OCs at some point in their lives. OCs include combined hormonal contraceptive pills, which contain both estrogen and a progestin, and progestin-only pill. [Full Text]

Authors

Michelle Rotermann (Michelle.Rotermann@statcan.gc.ca) is with the Health Analysis Division at Statistics Canada, Ottawa, Ontario. Sheila Dunn is with the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario. Amanda Black is with the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario.

What is already known on this subject?

  • Oral contraceptives (OCs) are the most common method of reversible contraception.
  • Over time, OCs have evolved, with decreasing estrogen doses, new progestins, and different dosing regimens.
  • Despite widespread exposure of Canadian women to these medications, detailed information about OC use in Canada is lacking.

What does this study add?

  • An estimated 1.3 million (16%) women aged 15 to 49 reported using OCs in the previous month.
  • OC use decreased sharply with age from 30% at ages 15 to 19 to 3% at ages 40 to 49.
  • OC users were significantly more likely than non-users to be sexually active, Canadian-born, and nulliparous.
  • At ages 35 to 49, OC users were less likely than non-users to have one or more cardiovascular risk factors.
  • Almost all (99%) OC users took combined formulations containing ethinyl estradiol (EE) and progestin.
  • Women aged 15 to 24 were more likely than those aged 35 to 49 to use lower-dose formulations (less than 30 mcg of EE).
Date modified: