The Morning After Pill in South Africa: 6 things you need to know right now
This article was originally published in 2019 and has since been updated.
Whether you experienced a condom mishap or an unfortunate lapse in judgment, having a backup plan may be the best option to preventing an unwanted pregnancy. The morning after pill may help prevent unplanned pregnancy when taken up to 72 hours after unprotected sex.
We look at six important things you need to know about the Morning After Pill
Don’t wait. Take it as soon as you can.
72 hours may sound like a long time, but this doesn’t mean you should wait till the last minute to take the medication. The sooner you take it, the better, and if you can reach a pharmacy immediately, you should. Remember to ask your local pharmacist if you’re not sure, they’ll give you clear instructions for taking it.
It’s called ‘emergency contraception’ for a reason
There’s a reason why this is your backup option – it’s not supposed to be used as your regular birth control method. It’s not a danger to your health if you take it several times, but there are better contraceptive options available to you.
Are there other options for emergency contraception?
You’ve probably heard of the most common morning after pills on the market which are available over-the-counter for women. An intrauterine device (IUD) is a highly effective form of emergency contraception. Inserting a copper IUD up to five days after unprotected sex can also prevent pregnancy, and once it’s inserted, can last up to 10 years.
No emergency contraception can prevent STIs
Although the pill and IUD can help prevent unplanned pregnancy, these options don’t reduce your risk of contracting STIs or HIV after unprotected sex. It’s advisable to visit your doctor who will be able to advise you on the best course of action moving forward. Book your STI screen and HIV test appointment here for further assistance.
The pharmacist could shut you down
As counterintuitive as this sounds, it’s possible for pharmacies or individual pharmacists to refuse to sell you emergency contraception. In the South African private medical sector, pharmacists with special permits provide oral contraceptives without prescription but in accordance with strict criteria, according to National Contraception Policy Guidelines. If this happens, they are supposed to direct you to elsewhere to get it. This entire process is frowned upon as it can cause delays which can compromise the efficacy of the treatment.
You must visit your doctor or clinic right away
You may have been exposed to STIs, and you may be needing a more effective form of birth control. It’s important that you get a check-up if you’ve had unprotected sex. You should also always keep a stash of condoms with you because you never know when you may need them! Prevention is always better than cure.
Book an appointment at Marie Stopes South Africa and seek out advice on contraceptive methods to help you find the best one to suit your lifestyle, find your nearest Marie Stopes centre now or make an appointment for an HIV and STI screening.
Source: Marie Stopes South Africa (Safe Abortion and Post Abortion Family Planning)
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