We have talked about contraception before, but this week I want to focus on emergency contraception. Postinor is the most common brand for this kind of medication. These pills fly off shelves almost like painkillers. For some people, this is the preferred method of contraception, but is this advised?
These pills contain a hormone levenorgestrol as the active substance.
These pills are best advised to be taken within the first 72 hours after one has had unprotected sex but are more effective within the first 24 hours. They can also be taken in case the preferred contraceptive method fails. According to manufacturers, efficacy declines, 95 per cent within the first 24 hours, 85 per cent in the next 24 hours and 58 per cent in the last 24 hours.
It is advised that if one has had this pill in a cycle then they should use a barrier method like condoms the next time they have sex until they have their next period. Repeated dosing in the same cycle might interrupt it while some women even with one dosing might have their menstruation interrupted. It is advised that if the period is later than five days, then pregnancy should be suspected.
In addition, if one vomits within two hours of taking the medicine, then they should take another dose. Statistics also show that these pills prevent up to 85 per cent of expected pregnancy, meaning that they are not a guarantee.
Using this pill, however, does not mean that one cannot continue with their usual hormonal contraceptives.
More so, if pregnancy occurs after one has taken this medicine, then there is possibility of an ectopic pregnancy which is an emergency itself. Some medicines classified as antifungal medicine reduce the efficacy of this medicine.
Overdose might cause nausea, low abdominal pain and vaginal bleeding. They also do not prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases. Breastfeeding mothers as well as expectant ones and the young are advised against taking this medicine. This also applies to those that have suffered an ectopic pregnancy. The pills also do not terminate an already existing pregnancy.
The writer is a pharmacist