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