Volume 59, Issue 5 p. 717-724
Original Article

Hormonal contraceptive use in Australian women: Who is using what?

Marina A. Skiba

Marina A. Skiba

Women's Health Research Program, Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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Rakibul M. Islam

Rakibul M. Islam

Women's Health Research Program, Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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Robin J. Bell

Robin J. Bell

Women's Health Research Program, Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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Susan R. Davis

Corresponding Author

Susan R. Davis

Women's Health Research Program, Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Correspondence: Professor Susan R. Davis, Women's Health Research Program, Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, 553 St Kilda Road, Melbourne, Vic. 3004, Australia. Email: [email protected]Search for more papers by this author
First published: 27 June 2019
Citations: 16
Conflict of Interest: S.R.D. has received honoraria from Besins Healthcare, Pfizer Australia and Lawley Pharmaceuticals Australia and has been an investigator for Lawley Pharmaceuticals Australia.

Abstract

Background

In Australia many hormonal contraceptives are not Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) supported, hence the use of different formulations have not been quantified.

Objectives

To document the use of hormonal contraceptives and factors associated with their use.

Materials and methods

Cross-sectional, online questionnaire-based study of 6986 Australian women, aged 18–39 years, recruited by email invitation from two large, representative databases. Main outcome measures were the prevalence of use of hormonal contraceptives and associated socio-demographic characteristics.

Results

Of the 6600 potential hormone contraceptive users, 43.2% were current users. Most (63.6%) reported using a combined oral contraceptive (COC) of which 30.9% were non-PBS-supported anti-androgenic progestin-containing COCs. Use of long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) or an injectable contraceptive was reported by 26.8%. Education beyond secondary school, being Australian born, rural residency, normal body mass index, age <25 years and nulliparity were significantly associated with hormonal contraceptive use. Women who reported polycystic ovary syndrome or acne were more likely to be taking a third or fourth generation COC (P < 0.0001) and endometriosis was significantly associated with intrauterine system (IUS) use. Third or fourth generation COC use was reported by 12.1% of obese, current smokers.

Conclusion

An estimated one-third of Australian women aged 18–39 are taking a non-PBS-supported anti-androgenic progestin COC, highlighting inequity in access to COC options. That hormonal contraceptive use is higher in rural areas is a novel finding and the proportion of LARC or injectable use suggests that uptake in Australia is higher than previously reported.