ECEC publishes article in WHO’s Entre Nous magazine

ECEC has published an article in WHO’s Entre Nous European Magazine for Sexual and Reproductive Health. In it, ECEC outlines the unequal EC access situation in Europe and advocates for the standardization of EC guidelines across the continent to help reduce these inequalities. Ultimately, ECEC recommends that every woman seeking EC be informed of the methods available to her so she can truly exercise choice concerning her reproductive health. ECEC would like to extend a special thank you to all of the informants who helped us collect and validate this valuable data!

Barriers to accessing EC in Italy

In a new study published in The Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal, Italian researchers explore the empirical and theoretical reasons behind why doctors and pharmacists may refuse to provide women with EC. Although evidence suggests that refusal typically is based on grounds of conscious, the researchers argue that the category of conscientious objection is not the most appropriate one for making sense of these claims because they are not grounded in a conflict between two contrasting moral duties. Since EC is available only by prescription from pharmacies in Italy, the researchers propose that the seemingly forced choice between protecting doctors’ and pharmacists’ professional self-determination and women’s reproductive self-determination could be prevented by distributing EC without a prescription and in a number of outlets in addition to pharmacies, thus relieving doctors and pharmacists from the legal duty to provide it.

New EC labeling in Europe

The European label for the EC product Norlevo has been updated with two major changes. In keeping with current evidence, the new label now says that LNG EC works by interfering with ovulation, and the language about the possibility that LNG EC might prevent implantation of a fertilized egg has been removed. The second change is that the label now says that efficacy is reduced in women weighing 75 kg (165 lbs) and that it is ineffective for women weighing more than 80 kg (176 lbs). Mother Jones reported on the story here and The New York Times covered it here. The patient leaflet for the Irish product can be found here. Additionally, the Reproductive Health Technologies Project created a fact sheet of FAQ’s about weight and EC which can be accessed here.

UK Health Secretary blocks bid to give girls ECPs in advance

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommended in draft guidance proposed in 2010 that doctors, nurses, and pharmacies should “ensure all young women are able to obtain free emergency hormonal contraception, including advance provision.”  The recommendation has been on the Health Secretary’s desk since the Spring but he has not yet given it approval over concerns that NICE has not provided any evidence that the move would bring down unwanted pregnancies.

Study on EC use in Poland

In an effort to identify the main reasons for EC requests, observed failure rates, and the type and incidence of adverse effects among EC users in Poland, a prospective single-center observational study was conducted among 4655 women living in Warsaw. Data was collected via a questionnaire completed by healthcare providers prescribing EC and focused on the following outcomes: reason for EC request, time lapse between unprotected intercourse and EC use, age of women requesting EC, and reported cases of pregnancy. The study found that of the women requesting EC, 62.9% were ≤ 25 years old and 0.75% became pregnant; adverse effects were rare and mild; and the main reason for requesting EC was problems associated with condoms. Additionally, the mean interval between unprotected intercourse and EC use was 21.2 hours, although it was 26.7 hours when EC failed. The researchers concluded that women living in Warsaw seeking EC used it very soon after unprotected intercourse, and this was probably one of the most important reasons for the low pregnancy rates observed in the study population.

Thanks to the Nordic Federation of Societies of Obstetrics and Gynecology for sharing this article, which can be found in their journal Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavic.

November 25: International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

According to the WHO report Global and regional estimates of violence against women, 25% of women in the European Region experience physical and/or sexual violence by intimate partners at some point of their life, and 5% experience sexual violence from people who are not their partners.

On the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, ECEC shares some valuable tools to help ensure timely access to emergency contraception to rape survivors.

Debate over LNG EC status continues in Germany

The German Bundesrat, the legislative body that represents the sixteen Länder (federal states) at the federal level, recently voted in favor of a resolution to remove the prescription-only status of LNG emergency contraception (EC). The resolution now goes to the Bundestag, the constitutional and legislative body, for a vote next January. If approved, women would no longer have to visit a doctor for a prescription before being able to obtain LNG EC.

Read the original article in German.

Spanish women and EC: New KAP study

In September 2013, the Spanish Society of Contraception (SEC) published the study ESTUDIO POBLACIONAL SOBRE USO Y OPINIÓN DE LA PÍLDORA POSTCOITAL 2013, which assesses women’s knowledge, opinions, and use of emergency contraception pills (ECPs) in Spain among 14 to 50 year olds. The study was conducted by SIGMA DOS and sponsored by Chiesi and is a follow up to a similar study conducted in 2011 which you can see here.

The study found that 16.6% of women of reproductive age have ever purchased ECPs, and 14.7% have ever used ECPs (this increased from 14.1% in 2011). The use of ECPs is associated with being in an emergency situation, primarily due to contraceptive failure (78.9%), usually the condom. Read the full 2013 survey report here (in Spanish only).

Inequalities in access to contraceptive choice in Europe

In June 2013, the International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network (IPPF EN) launched The Barometer of Women’s Access to Modern Contraceptive Choice in 10 EU Countries. This report provides a policy and status overview of women’s access to modern contraceptive choices in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and Sweden.

The report reveals inequalities in access to contraceptive choice and calls for coherent policies on sexual and reproductive health and rights. “This report shows the diversity in which national governments address the issue of contraceptive choice across Europe and highlights inadequacies in national policy frameworks, pressing the need for increased dialogue between stakeholders and policy makers around sexual and reproductive health and rights.”