Morning after pill not effective on most fertile days
The ‘morning after pill’ which was being offered over the phone in a controversial new scheme over the Christmas period is “not effective” when a woman is most fertile, a consultant gynaecologist has warned.Dr Kate Guthrie said Levonelle One Step, the form of emergency contraception being offered by the British Pregnancy Advice Service (bpas), was “not effective” for up to five days around ovulation.
Dr Guthrie, a member of the Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health, was concerned that women could take the pill during these days and wrongly think they would avoid pregnancy.
She said: “There’s very clear evidence showing that it’s not effective in the couple of days running up to ovulation, and probably not very effective in the 36 hours afterwards.”
The aim of the bpas scheme is to cut the number of women seeking abortions over the festive season.
The idea is that women will be able to pop the pill on the morning after accidentally having unprotected sex, rather than having to get an appointment, which can be difficult over the Christmas break.
Part of the rationale is, as bpas puts it, “the sooner the morning after pill is taken after unprotected sex, the more effective it is.”
Dr Guthrie, who works in East Yorkshire, agreed with that, saying that Levonelle should always be taken within 72 hours of sex.
However, she was concerned that women would not be sufficiently informed of Levonelle’s limitations.
While she welcomed immediate access to emergency contraception, she said: “You have to know how effective or ineffective it is.”
Guidance from the faculty, published this August, states that Levonelle “has been shown to be no better than placebo at suppressing ovulation when given immediately prior to ovulation, and is not thought to be effective once the process of fertilisation has occurred”.
Dr Guthrie said that, if a woman has had unprotected sex at this time of the menstrual cycle, she should see a doctor about obtaining another form of emergency contraception.
Tags: contraception, Doctors, Health, Health Professionals, labour, maternity, midwives, pregnancy, Risk of Drugs