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Likelihood of conception with a single act of intercourse: providing benchmark rates for assessment of post-coital contraceptives

      Abstract

      Emergency post-coital contraceptives effectively reduce the risk of pregnancy, but their degree of efficacy remains uncertain. Measurement of efficacy depends on the pregnancy rate without treatment, which cannot be measured directly. We provide indirect estimates of such pregnancy rates, using data from a prospective study of 221 women who were attempting to conceive. We previously estimated the probability of pregnancy with an act of intercourse relative to ovulation. In this article, we extend these data to estimate the probability of pregnancy relative to intercourse on a given cycle day (counting from onset of previous menses). In assessing the efficacy of post-coital contraceptives, other approaches have not incorporated accurate information on the variability of ovulation. We find that the possibility of late ovulation produces a persistent risk of pregnancy even into the sixth week of the cycle. Post-coital contraceptives may be indicated even when intercourse has occurred late in the cycle.

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