Repeated use of emergency contraceptive pills rendered safe; can they also serve effectively as a regular contraceptive method?

The E pill

The E pill

The emergency contraceptive pill has aroused debates as to whether it can serve as a regular contraceptive method, client’s safety when used more than once in a single menstrual cycle and its side effects.

Much as it can be bought over the counter, its access in some places is limited to avoid cases of overdose as well as ectopic pregnancy risks among other perceived side effects.
This is quite a contentious subject given the high rate at which women go for the emergency pills all the time as they live with fear as to what risks to expect.

A recent research conducted by International Consortium for Emergency Contraception (ICEC) cites that using emergency contraceptive pills more than once is extremely safe.According to the research, the ECPs poses no risk of harmful overdose neither does it affect future fertility.

Quite often we are warned against using the ECPs more than twice a year to avoid risks of ectopic pregnancy. According to the ICEC fact sheet, ECPs can be used even more than once within the same menstrual cycle without an increased risk of ectopic pregnancy.

“There are no restrictions on repeated use of ECPs,” states WHO’s 2015 eligibility criteria while the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) states that “ Emergency contraception may be used more than once even within the same menstrual cycle.”

ECPs function by delaying the ovulation of a woman. If this same individual engages in unprotected sex again after taking ECPs, she is still at risk of pregnancy within the same cycle. She is also still safe to use ECPs again.

While this research could be a relief to many women who find themselves taking ECPs every weekend to avoid pregnancy, it will also be important to ask if it can be used a regular contraceptive method effectively.

The research clearly indicates that ECPs are less effective as a contraceptive method compared to the ongoing methods such as IUCD, implant or even depo. In fact, it says it is only more effective than the condom in preventing pregnancy but does not prevent HIV or any othe sexually transmitted disease.

Much as repeated use of ECPs has been rendered safe, the article acknowledges the efficacy of ongoing contraceptives for a regular method in preventing unplanned pregnancy. In cases where a regular method has failed, forced sex cases and even unprotected sex, one is free to use ECPs regardless of the number of times previously consumed.

‘While women should know that ECPs are less effective than ongoing contraceptive methods and do not protect against STIs, each woman can use ECPs every time she has unprotected sex and wants to avoid unwanted pregnancy,’ cites the report.

To download the full report click here.

By Lynette Ouma