TAKING morning after pills or emergency control pills excessively could expose the body to harmful toxins and long term health effects, a Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council (ZNFPC) official has warned.
By Michael Gwarisa in Mutare
The call comes at the back of discoveries that most young girls in particular those in tertiary institutions were consistently taking emergency contraceptives as a birth control method amidst indications that in some instances, a month long supply at a single pharmacy may only last a few days due to excessive consumption.
Briefing journalist during a Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (ZNFPC) Media Advocacy workshop in Mutare, ZNFPC Service Delivery Coordinator for Manicaland province Mr Kennedy Majero said young girls were taking emergency pills as birth control pills yet they should only be used in an emergency since the toxins could harm the body in the long run.
“The concern however that some of the young girls take emergency contraception is so regularly that they are actually using it as a method of contraception which is not good for their health.
“Consistent intake of emergency contraception is harmful because there is relatively a high dose of hormones that are going into your system and taking that consistently can be problematic,” said Mr Majero.
The morning after pill was developed for the use in emergencies – for example if you have forgotten to take the pill or a condom rips. It contains a much higher dose of hormones than the normal contraceptive pill, which means that you should not use it regularly.
Contraceptive pills according to Mr Majero contain hormones and the more one takes emergency contraceptives the more they are exposed and risk getting some serious side effects. Emergency Contraceptives is used to prevent pregnancy after unprotected intercourse. Zimbabwe however has progesterone only formulations and combined estrogen and progesterone regimens and is taken within 120 hours (5 days).
“We also have combined oral contraceptives pills, these are short acting methods. The combined oral contraceptives as the word implies which means combined, have a combination of two hormones these are estrogen and progesterone
“Combined oral contraceptives have different content in hormone, we have got what we call the high dose and low doses. We have a 21 pill pack and 28 pill pack and in Zimbabwe we are commonly using the low dose which is 30 t0 35 micro-grams of estrogen or less, we are trying to reduce the side effects. The more the amount of hormones, the more the amount of side effects.”
He however urged girls to take up long term reversible contraceptives such as the Jadelle among others to avoid overdose from the pills.
Meanwhile, the UNFPA in partnership with the ministry of health and child (MoHCC) and ZNFPC have come together to sensitize pharmacists to ensure they provide accurate information on different methods of contraceptives available.