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IFPA Welcomes Improved Access to Emergency Contraception

By May 1, 2015News

The IFPA has welcomed the availability of the most effective emergency contraceptive pill in pharmacies in Ireland from 1st May 2015. The emergency contraception ellaOne is now directly available from pharmacies without a medical prescription.

IFPA Medical Director Dr Caitriona Henchion said: “Based on current evidence, ellaOne is the most effective emergency contraceptive pill available. We welcome that it is now available directly from pharmacies without a prescription, which will increase access and decrease cost for women.”

ellaOne can be taken up to five days, or 120 hours, after unprotected sex, but should be taken as soon as possible for optimal effect. Until today, it has only been available on prescription from a GP.

“The emergency contraceptive pill is a safe and effective way for women and girls to prevent pregnancy when contraception fails, where no contraception was used, or in the case of sexual assault. It is more effective the sooner it is taken after unprotected sex” said Dr. Henchion.

“The IFPA has advocated for improved access to emergency contraception for a number of years. This wider access to ellaOne is another step forward following the availability of the emergency contraceptive pill Norlevo in pharmacies in Ireland since 2011.”

The IFPA continues to offer high-quality emergency contraceptive services at its clinics in Dublin city centre and Tallaght, where information and advice on long term contraception can also be provided.

Notes to the Editor

  • The emergency contraceptive pill is a safe, effective and responsible method of preventing pregnancy when regular contraception has failed, no contraception was used, or where sex was forced. It works by preventing or delaying ovulation, preventing fertilisation.
  • Emergency contraceptive pills are available in two forms in Ireland: the progesterone emergency contraceptive pill (such as Norlevo and Levonelle) and the ullipristal emergency contraceptive pill (ellaOne). Both forms are available from a GP or family planning clinic, or directly from pharmacies without a prescription. They are also available on a medical card, through a prescription from a GP or family planning clinic.
  • Based on current evidence, ellaOne is more effective than other emergency contraceptive pills. It is also more expensive.
  • Norlevo and Prevenelle can be taken up to 3 days (72 hours) after unprotected sex, while ellaOne can be taken up to 5 days (120 hours) after unprotected sex. However both forms are more effective the sooner they are taken.
  • A copper intrauterine device (IUCD) can also be fitted by a trained GP or family planning professional as emergency contraception up to five days after unprotected sex.

Myths & Facts about Emergency Contraception

MYTH: The emergency contraceptive pill can only be taken the ‘morning after’ unprotected sex

FACT: Depending on the method used, the emergency contraceptive pill can be used up to 3 days (72 hours) or 5 days (120 hours) after unprotected sex but is more effective the sooner it is taken.

MYTH: The emergency contraceptive pill can only be taken three times over a woman’s lifetime

FACT: Repeated use of the emergency contraceptive pill poses no health risks and has no effect on future fertility. However frequent use is not recommended because it is not as effective as regular or long-term contraception.

MYTH: The emergency contraceptive pill causes an abortion

FACT: The emergency contraceptive pill does not cause an abortion, it prevents pregnancy. It works by preventing or delaying ovulation, thereby preventing fertilisation. The emergency contraceptive pill will not disrupt an existing pregnancy.

MYTH: Only teenage girls use the emergency contraceptive pill

FACT: Women and girls of all ages use the emergency contraceptive pill as a safe, responsible and effective way of preventing pregnancy when a regular method fails (e.g. condom burst, missed pill, or late start to a new cycle of pills), when no contraception was used, or when sex was forced.

MYTH: The emergency contraceptive pill encourages women and girls to have unprotected sex and to stop using regular methods of contraception

FACT: Research studies from around the world have consistently found that increased access to the emergency contraceptive pill does not result in an increase in unprotected sex or a decrease in regular contraceptive use.

About the IFPA

The Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) is Ireland’s leading sexual health charity. The IFPA provides a comprehensive range of sexual and reproductive health services, pregnancy counselling and education and training services. The organisation promotes the right of all people to sexual and reproductive health information and dedicated, confidential and affordable services.