Ginger-U Blog

What Does Adherence Mean? Why Should I Care?

The oral contraceptive pill (OCP) is one of the most popular forms of contraception, especially among young women. The need to follow the prescription regimen properly (i.e., adherence) is particularly acute for OCP; failure to do so can lead to pregnancy!

What Does Adherence Mean?

Simply stated, adherence means taking a medication exactly as it’s prescribed. Perfect adherence means there’s no lapse in following the prescribed regimen. Poor adherence means there’re more lapses in following the prescribed regimen than is “typical.” You ask what is typical!? Typical is the average adherence among all women taking the pill; women on the pill miss one pill per cycle on average. Those missing two or more pills per cycle have poor adherence.

Let’s say my OCP is prescribed as one per day over a 28-day cycle, and I decide to take the first one at 10 PM before I go to bed. Perfect adherence is if I take the “right pill” every day at 10 PM on each of the 28 days. If my pill prescription allows deviation from the same time every day, I would still be adherent for a given day so long as I take the pill within the allowed time window. If I missed my pill on a given day, but took corrective action, I would still be adherent, albeit having missed a day.

I mentioned the “right pill”; let me explain. The individual pills an OCP card are not all the same, even though some may look identical. Each has a hormonal composition specific to each day over the period of days a card covers. It’s critically important to take specified pill on a given day - not just any pill on the card. For this reason, birth control pills are packaged in blister cards on which a calendar is printed to guide the patient.

What’s the Big Deal If Miss a Pill (or Two)?

Do you know that missing even one pill increases your chance of pregnancy! If yes, you’re among the 10% of women on the pill who know this fact. Simply put, your risk of unplanned pregnancy can increase dramatically with adherence lapse.

OCP is reported to be 99.7% effective when adherence is perfect. In other words, there’s only a 0.3% risk of unplanned pregnancy over the first year with perfect adherence. With typical adherence however, the risk is 9%. Girl, this is a whopping 30X increase in risk! Imagine what happens with poor adherence.

Bottom Line:

Adherence is the word! Don’t miss your pill. If you do miss a pill or two, Ginger-U will tell you the prescribed corrective steps.

Keywords: Adherence, OCP, Contraceptive, Pregnancy.

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