Int J Clin Pharm 2020 Jun 9;42(3):887-894. Epub 2020 May 9.
Pharmacy Practice Research Unit, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, College of Pharmacy, Jazan University, Jazan, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Background: The rapid change in the socio-demographic pattern and changing beliefs toward fertility and birth spacing have resulted in a notable increase in the use of oral anticonceptives in the Saudi Arabian community. However, information on the current utilization of oral anticonceptives and attitudes toward their use remains sparse.
Objective: The present study evaluated the utilization pattern of oral anticonceptives, attitude toward pill use, and incidence of side effects among Saudi women.
Setting: The study was conducted in a community setting in Jazan, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Methods: Eligible Saudi women routinely using oral anticonceptive pills were invited to participate in this prospective, cross-sectional survey. Data were collected using a standardized, pretested, semi-structured questionnaire. Jazan was selected as it recorded the highest number of women using contraceptives in Saudi Arabia.
Main Outcome Measure: The pattern of pill utilization, attitude toward pill use, and incidence of side effects.
Results: A total of 496 women consented to participate in this study. Most of the respondents (87.5%) were using or had used oral anticonceptives for birth control. In nearly half (49.2%) of participants, oral pills were advised by a gynaecologist, and approximately two-thirds (69.0%) were using or had used combined oral anticonceptives. Nearly two-thirds (63.1%) of respondents preferred pills over other contraception methods due to their ease of use. More than one-third (39.3%) of participants agreed that oral pills are safe. Approximately half (53.2%) of participants were aware that a missed pill must be taken immediately after recalling that a dose was missed. A total of 69.6% of participants experienced at least one side effect, of which mood swings (61.1%), weight gain or increase appetite (42.2%), decreased libido (34.1%), and nausea (31.2%) were most common.
Conclusion: Saudi women had a high acceptance rate for oral anticonceptives as a legitimate method to prevent unintended pregnancy. This was associated with a modest degree of understanding about their risks and benefits. Pharmacists should provide up-to-date information and counsel patients about the use and side effects of oral anticonceptives.