First participatory survey on pharmacy access to EC in Europe.

Help us learn more about how real access to emergency contraception (EC) is in Europe! 

July / Sept 2019. The European Youth Network on Sexual and Reproductive Rights (YouAct) and ECEC, launch the first participatory survey on pharmacy access to EC in Europe. With this effort, we want to:

  • Learn how EC products are placed and stocked in community pharmacies
  • Identify different EC counselling practices and models
  • Assess if different post-coital contraceptive choices are offered to individuals
  • Update information on the cost of EC pills.

This project is done with technical and logistical support from a research team from the University of Ottawa (Canada) and inspired by a similar initiative conducted by the American Society for Emergency Contraception (ASEC).  Please find the link to the survey here:

In Albanian:

In Bosnian:

In Croatian:

In English:

In French:

In Spanish: 

The survey can be responded in less than 10 minutes from your cell phone.  Please help us in this effort to identify the remaining barriers to timely access to EC in our countries, and advance our reproductive rights to post-coital contraception.  

Thank you for your collaboration, and enjoy the summer!  

The YouAct and ECEC teams.  

Turkey: new resource for EC information

July 2019. DKT Turkey recently launched an emergency contraception (EC) website to inform and educate about this method. The site, written entirely in Turkish, uses easy-to-understand language to describe how and when to use three different EC methods (UPA and LNG EC pills, and the Cu-IUD). It also directs visitors to a list of longer-term, more sustainable contraceptive options. DKT is an international NGO charity that since 1989 works  to provide safe and affordable options for family planning and HIV prevention through social marketing.


How accessible is EC in Europe?

July 2019. Levonorgestel (LNG) and ulipristal acetate (UPA) emergency contraception (EC) pills are registered as prescription-free medical products in most European countries. Does this mean all women in Europe have the same access to EC?

Anecdotal data suggests that we don’t: In the United Kingdom, pharmacists’ objection to dispensing EC, based on misinformation, myths or their own moral values, has been recently reported as a remaining obstacle to buy EC. In Malta, Doctors for Choice report that many pharmacies in populated locations do not stock EC pills, and the national health service does not provide them. Pharmacies that stock EC are accessible only during specific and limited times of the day.

In order to learn more about how real access to EC is in different European countries, the European Youth Network on Sexual and Reproductive Rights (YouAct) and ECEC, in cooperation with the Faculty of Health Sciences of the University of Ottawa, will soon launch a participatory online survey. Stay tuned. We hope you will help us gather information from your country!

This initiative is inspired by the America Society for Emergency Contraception biennial survey on EC access in the United States of America.

Overweight, Obesity and Contraception: new clinical guideline by the FSRH

May 2019. The UK’s Faculty of Sexual & Reproductive Healthcare (FSRH) just published Overweight, Obesity and Contraception, a guideline that brings together evidence and expert opinion on the provision of contraception to women who are overweight and women with obesity. Recommendations are based on available evidence and the consensus opinion of experts and the guideline development group (GDG).

With regards to emergency contraception, the guideline provides the following key information and clinical recommendations (see page ix of the document): Continue reading

More on Europe and contraception in our Publications page

April 2019. We recently updated our Publications page to include resources from colleague organizations, focused on reproductive rights and access to contraception in Europe. This valuable references, which may be of use for your work promoting EC access in our region, can be found here:

  • European Parliament Resolution: Experiencing backlash in women’s rights and gender equality in the EU ( 2019).
  • WHO Europe: Action Plan for Sexual and Reproductive Health: Towards achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in Europe – leaving no one behind.
  • European Parliamentary Forum: Limited Access: Europe’s Contraception Deficit –  A White Paper (2018).
  • Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights: Women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights in Europe (2017).

Ireland: EC pills to be provided free of cost without prescription at the pharmacy, to medical card holders


February 2019. In December 2018 the Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme (SHCPP) of the Irish Health Service (HSE), launched a national campaign in partnership with the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU), with the aim to increase public awareness that EC is available to women directly from a pharmacist up to five days (and not only ” the morning after”) following unprotected sex.  

According to the Irish Ministry of Health, Simon Harris, ” women with medical cards can now get the EHC pill free-of-charge directly from a pharmacist without the need for a prescription from their GP. This is an important public health measure and will remove any barrier to women getting timely treatment from their local pharmacy.”

Read the HSE press release here and IPU’s here.

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New international guidance on EC pills

January 2019. The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) and the International Consortium for Emergency Contraception (ICEC), launch the 4th edition of “Emergency Contraceptive Pills: Medical and Service Delivery Guidance”.

The guidance is designed to serve as a key reference and training document for service provision. It includes a range of medical and service delivery issues in an easy to use format (from mechanisms of action, dosages, and counseling to EC pill regimens) and a two-page clinical summary available in English and Spanish.

The document can be translated and adapted as necessary to comply with national requirements. Get in touch with us if you are interested in using this guidance in your work.

In the UK: mandatory consultation with pharmacist to buy EC, put into question


January  2019 –  In the United Kingdom, the charity British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) published Pharmacy provision of emergency contraception: A mystery shopper study.

A consultation with the pharmacist prior to purchasing EC is still mandatory in the UK, as it is considered an important opportunity to give a woman information about all her contraception options; STI screening and any other sexual health questions she may have.

The study looks into what information is given during a consultation, in order to assess whether the value of that information offsets the additional barriers created by requiring that emergency contraception only is sold by a pharmacist following a mandatory consultation.

Based on the report findings, BPAS calls for the reclassification of levonorgestrel (LNG) EC pills, so they can be purchased directly from the shelf (what is common in countries like Sweden or the USA), and that any additional information a woman may need, be provided at her request. Download and read the full report here.