Position Statements

Post-coital contraception

The effectiveness of post-coital contraception to prevent against unwanted pregnancies has been demonstrated in many studies. Patients who have "unprotected" intercourse can use contraceptive tablets preferably within 72 hours after intercourse, or an intrauterine contraceptive device within the first week after intercourse. Until recently only the combination oestrogen-progestogen tablets have been available (2 tablets given twice 12 hours apart) but recently progestogen only post-coital contraception using levonorgestrel 0,75mg (given twice 12 hours apart) has been made available. The effectiveness is improved over combination tablets and side effects occur three times less commonly. SASOG supports making this medication widely available as an over-the-counter product licensed as a schedule 2 drug.

SASOG strongly supports the wide availability and use of post-coital contraception.

South African surveys indicated very poor uptake of post-coital contraception, very limited knowledge about this form of contraception, its use and its availability. SASOG supports the education of health workers and pharmacists on this form of contraception. The sustainability of the introduction and wide use of post-coital contraception will depend on education, training and retraining of women in their communities and of health workers. Lessons should be learnt from other countries where post-coital contraception was introduced, where the concept was accepted by health workers and brought to the community in various forms including cards with essential information distributed in schools and other places where young persons can be reached.

SASOG urges the national Department of Health to follow this route for the benefit of women of South Africa.

Prepared by Prof Basil van Iddekinge and Prof Zephne van der Spuy.
Edited by Prof Gerhard Lindeque
August 2001