Emergency contraceptive

These days it is heard that unmarried female adolescents and youths are resorting to emergency contraceptive pills after having ‘fun’ with their friends and or colleagues. Though the scientific emergency contraception (EC) was develop in 1974 by Dr. Albert Yuzpe, it was only declared safe and effective in 1997 and approved as an EC pill in 1998.

It is reported that worldwide over 300 million unwanted pregnancies took place between 1995 and 2000, and during this period, over 700,000 of these women died of pregnancy-related causes, including over 400,000 who died from complications of unsafe abortion. It is said that many of these women could have prevented unwanted pregnancies with use of emergency contraception (EC). Men and Women use condoms to protect against pregnancy and in case of condom breakage, they resort to emergency contraceptives.

Studies have pointed out that the EC pill has no major role in reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies especially in low and middle income countries. Secondly the way advertisements are introducing the idea of replacing other regular contraceptives and this may have negative implications for women health. Many social scientist, epidemiologist and health professionals fear that the number of condom users might be decreased in future which would have negative impact on condom promotion programme.  The condom promotion programme is not just related with unwanted pregnancy or fertility it also related with reproductive tract infection and HIV/AIDS.

The study conducted by WHO suggests that teenagers are the dominant users of EC and various study reveled that this group is prone to get sexually transmitted infections. The point is if these teenagers are going to depends on EC pill, they may get infections and will be more prone to HIV/AIDS. The public health professionals have two way challenges, one is to protect younger or adult women from unwanted pregnancy and secondly to ensure the appropriate use of EC pill. It is time that public health professionals and market based pharmaceutical companies sit together and developed a long term strategies for the use of EC pill.

The uses of EC pill are increasing in the age group of 30-45 as this group does not feel the need of using regular contraceptives. Many times they use natural methods with the combination of emergency contraceptive. The trends show the number of EC pill uses going up and it is possible that regular users of temporary family planning methods may reduce in future.

This is an alarming situation and public health professionals have to look for a solution. Policy makers, planners and experts have to understand the various consequences of emergency contraceptive and provide an appropriate guideline. Medical companies want to increase their sale, without any concern or understanding on the health consequences. Majority of the health professionals are only seeing the benefits in terms of decrease in maternal mortality. But they are not visualizing that promoting Emergency Contraceptive can derail condom promotion programme and also change the whole concept of family planning.

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