Windhoek-Many women do not realise that the morning-after pill is strictly an emergency contraceptive, a pharmacy assistant told New Era recently.
The morning-after pill is a birth control method that can prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex.
Although it is called a ‘morning-after pill’, a woman does not need to wait for the morning after having had unprotected sex to take the pill. This is because it is effective within 72 hours of having unprotected sex.
“You’d find one woman buying the morning-after pill three times in a week and we would advise her to rather consider taking an oral contraceptive, which is much safer,” said Hermanus Khachab, a pharmacy assistant at a Windhoek pharmacy.
He added that many women are aware of the morning-after pill but not how it works for effective results.
“Many women don’t know when to take the morning-after pill. It is effective within 72 hours but you find women coming to buy the morning-after pill four days after having had unprotected sexual intercourse,” explained Khachab.
Unlike the oral contraceptive, the morning-after pill becomes less effective if used frequently, Khachab explained.
“We always advise that our customers should not use the morning-after pill more than three times in a year. I’d rather suggest that someone be on oral contraceptive where you know that you are safe,” added Khachab.
Many women abuse the emergency contraceptive because of “ignorance and negligence”, he said, stressing that if used on a regular basis, the pill becomes less effective than condoms and oral contraceptives.
“If you find that you have to use the morning-after pill every month, you need to see your general practitioner to discuss other contraceptive options. If you know that there is an oral contraceptive to take and choose to abuse the morning-after pill, it means that you are negligent and careless,” stresses Khachab.
He added that the morning-after pill and oral contraceptive do not protect against sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
“If you have had unprotected sex and you have used the morning-after pill you may also consider getting tested for sexually transmitted illnesses,” Khachab stressed.
Khachab warned on the side effects of the morning-after pill that include nausea or vomiting, dizziness, fatigue, headache, breast tenderness, lower abdominal pains or cramps and bleeding between periods or heavier menstrual bleeding.
These side effects normally only last for a few days, Khachab added.
“If your period is more than seven days or is usually light or for a short period contact your general practitioner as soon as possible to check for pregnancy,” added Khachab.
He also said that the morning-after pill can be taken by breastfeeding mothers.
“Although small amounts of the hormones contained in the morning-after pill may pass into your breast milk it is not thought to be harmful to your baby,” said Khachab.