Emergency contraception

Marie Stopes has reminded all women of the over-the-counter availability of emergency contraception from pharmacies.

... following research highlighting a lack of awareness of the drug’s availability.

“With no form of contraception 100% effective, an awareness of how to access emergency
contraception is vital,” said Jill Michelson, National Clinical Adviser for Marie Stopes International.

“Yet what research is telling us is that many women aren’t aware that, in the event of a contraceptive
emergency, they can reduce their chances of experiencing an unplanned pregnancy simply by visiting
their chemist.”

The research findings, published in the recent edition of Contraception, indicated that less than half
(48%) of all women were aware that emergency contraception was available from pharmacies without
a prescription.1

To add to this, approximately a third (32%) incorrectly believed that emergency contraception pills
were the same as an “abortion pill”.

Women with poor knowledge of emergency contraception were also significantly less likely to have
used it than those with good knowledge of the drug.

Since January 2004, emergency contraception has been available over the counter without a doctor’s
prescription for a cost of approximately $20 - $30.

Currently there are two forms of emergency contraception available over the counter – a one and two
tablet form. Emergency contraception can be effective up to 120 hours after unprotected sex, yet it is
more effective the earlier it is taken. The drug does not work if conception has already occurred.

“Unplanned pregnancy is a key health issue and a reality for over 50% of Australian women, and
more needs to be done to reduce this statistic,” said Ms Michelson.

“We need to urgently get the correct message out there on how to use emergency contraception and
where to obtain it in order to address this concerning knowledge gap.

“Our political parties should make an election promise to invest in comprehensive sex and
relationships education and improve contraceptive options, efficacy and access.

“It’s one worthwhile and much needed investment that all voters would benefit from.”

For more information on contraception and emergency contraception, visit