Friday, June 26, 1998 Published at 01:19 GMT 02:19 UK
Majority of women 'are ignorant' about the pill
The pill, a popular contraceptive, but many don't know how to use it
One in five unwanted pregnancies may be due to women not knowing how to take the contraceptive pills, according to new research.
Research published in the British Medical Journal found that only 12% of women had a good knowledge of how to use the pill.
The researchers questioned over 500 women in Hampshire. They found that using leaflets and asking questions about the pill improved women's knowledge significantly.
They suggest that women who attend family planning clinics regularly for repeat prescriptions of the pill should be given leaflets.
The most common reasons why women fail to take the pill properly include bouts of severe diarrhoea or vomiting, taking some form of antibiotic with the pill, starting a packet of pills late and missing a day's dose.
If any of these occurs, doctors advise that women continue to take the pill, but take extra precautions for a week, such as using barrier methods of contraception in combination with the pill.
If a woman has missed taking a pill over a week, she should run two packets together. If she has started a packet late and had sex before this, she should consider taken the morning-after pill as an extra precaution.