Switzerland: a qualitative study of young women experiences obtaining EC in pharmacies 

November 2020. Last April, Unisanté published “Remise de la contraception d’urgence en pharmacie : une étude qualitative sur l’expérience des clientes”, the report of a qualitative research exploring the opinions and perceptions of young
women who obtained EC in community pharmacies in Switzerland.

Individual face-to-face interviews were conducted between April and August 2019 with 30 women ages 18 and younger, who had sought EC in pharmacies in the canton of Vaud between 2014 and 2019. Issues asked included: reasons for choosing to go to a pharmacy; advantages and disadvantages; reception at the pharmacy counter; questions asked; judgments; actual in-take of the pill; price; support; contraception and prevention.

In short, the study concludes that community pharmacies are very convenient points for EC delivery. They are highly appreciated because they provide great accessibility, short waiting time, and extended hours. However, the report points at several avenues for improvement, to ensure that no barriers for young women arise in pharmacies:

  • improving the information and knowledge of young women about the procedure for dispensing EC in pharmacies;
  • improving and systematizing the information that is asked during the mandatory counseling; 
  • reducing embarrassment and prevent judgemental attitudes;
  • raising awareness among young men;
  • reconsidering the price of EC;
  • integrating pharmacists in the reflection around the delivery of EC in pharmacies.

The full document can be downloaded here and directly from our website, here

International solidarity with women in Poland

October 2020. ECEC’s mission is to expand access to and knowledge of emergency contraception (EC) in Europe, within a broader sexual and reproductive health and rights approach. Our work does not occur in a vacuum: ensuring access to EC is just one of the many measures necessary for people to be able to exercise sexual and reproductive rights, which are human rights.

ECEC wants to express its solidarity with the people of Poland, who are seeing their reproductive rights curtailed, and adhered to the joint civil society statement on international solidarity with women and peaceful protestors in Poland, prepared by the Centre for Reproductive Rights.

Italy: women under 18 no longer need a prescription to buy UPA EC

October 2020. On October 8th the Italian Medicines Agency (AIFA) reclassified ulipistral acetate (UPA) EC pill EllaOne to “non-prescription but non-over-the-counter medicinal product” (Resolution no. 998). To date, women under 18  needed a medical prescritpion, prior to purchasing UPA ECPs at the pharmacy.

According to AIFA’s statment, this measure aims to further protect the physical and psychological health of adolescents, and to prevent unplanned pregnancies among youth. The Report to Parliament of the Minister of Health of June 2020 reported that, according to 2018 data, “the increased use of emergency contraception with levonorgestrel  and ulipistral acetate, had a positive effect on the reduction of pregnancy termination, which in Italy has continuously and progressively decreased since 1983”. Eliminating the prescription requirement for emergency contraception for minors aims, therefore, to contribute to reduce the conception rate under the age of 18 in the context of improving, in particular, the sexual health of adolescents and, more generally, of public health.”

You can read AIFA’s resolution here, and announcement of this reclassification here.


Ireland: New App for EC counselling

October 2020. In Ireland, a web-based App for EC counselling has been developed by www.MyClinic365.com. The App is based on The Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare guideline on EC and is available in English to everyone: MyClinic365 EC Prescribing App

The MyClinic365.com team welcomes your feedback at info@myclinic365.com

This App is a good complement to the extensive guidances published by the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland in 2015 and 2016 respectively (and subsequently updated), on the safe supply of non-prescription UPA and LNG EC pills, which are available to all on PSI website.

Romania: EC featured in YouTube channel Sexul VS Barza


September 2020. The Romanian YouTube channel, SEXUL vs BARZA, run by reproductive justice and sex education advocate Adriana Radu, just released a new chapter focused on emergency contraception, which you can watch here:

Such resources are key to educate the young (and the not so young) generations that are more prone to look for information on contraception on-line. We are grateful for Adriana Radu’s work: Mulțumesc!

World Contraception Day 2020: EC and stigma

September 2020. The European Journal of Contraception and Reproductive Health Care highlights and provides open access to this paper from its latest issue:

Qualitative findings about stigma as a barrier to contraception use: the case of Emergency Hormonal Contraception in Britain and implications for future contraceptive interventions
Rachael Eastham, Christine Milligan & Mark Limmer.

See more on the ESC website.

A good way to commemorate #WorldContraceptionDay


Switzerland: new recommendations for EC providers (available in German and French)

September 2020. This past month of July, the Swiss Interdisciplinary Group of Experts on Emergency Contraception (IENK) updated its position paper, originally published in 2014, in order to reflect new recommendations and research findings (as of April 21st, 2020).  The paper is available in French  and German, and also directly from Santé Sexuelle Suisse (IENK‘s member) webiste: https://www.sante-sexuelle.ch.

IENK is a coalition of individuals and organisations aimed at promoting access to EC and ensuring quality counselling. It brings together professionals of different fields (pharmacists, medical staff, sexual health specialists, midwives) that work on EC.

Australia: new consensus statement on the provision of EC

August 2020. In Australia, the Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health COVID-19 Coalition just published the consensus statement on the provision of emergency contraception, which includes recommendations for primary care, pharmacy and policy. Some of the recommendations are:

For primary care:

  • Women should be advised of all available emergency contraception (EC) methods at the point of contact.
  • Interdisciplinary collaborations and rapid referral pathways should be established to facilitate emergency Cu-IUD insertion for EC

Recommendations for pharmacy:

  • Pharmacists should raise awareness that the Cu-IUD is the most effective method of EC and provide information about local Cu-IUD inserting clinicians
  • Pharmacies should routinely stock both oral EC options (UPA-ECP and LNG-ECP) so that either can be offered to women depending on their medical history, time elapsed since unprotected sexual intercourse and desire to quick start contraception.
  • Third-party access, where an individual may be provided oral EC on behalf of someone else, must be upheld to continue access to EC for those who may have difficulty obtaining it themselves
  • Advance provision of EC through pharmacies is encouraged to ensure timely use of EC.

Recommendations for policy:

  • Cu-IUD provision should be publicly funded at no cost to the woman
  • Implementation of national pharmacy guidelines should be supported by government and pharmacy professional groups to ensure consistent, best-practice EC care
  • EC methods should be made available free to all women

Read the full consensus statement document here.


UK: obtaining EC still isn’t as easy as it should be

July 2020. A mystery shopper study recently published in the BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health (PMID:32554399Full text) explores the standard of care around accessing EC from community pharmacies in the United Kingdom. The study concludes that while availability of EC from pharmacies has improved access, the need to have a consultation with a pharmacist introduces delays; around one in five of the study mystery shoppers left without getting EC. This conclusion is in line with the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologist (RCOG) recommendation to reclassify EC pills as a General Sales List product.

Read the full study here.  

Council of Europe: Historic resolution on contraception

June 2020.  The Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) just adopted Resolution 2331 (2020) “Empowering women: promoting access to contraception in Europe”.  It is the first time in its history that the parliamentary body of the Council of Europe provides recommendations in a Resolution entirely dedicated to improving access to contraception in Europe. Among others, the resolution calls to remove all types of barriers (geographic, economic and socio-cultural) to modern contraception; to enhance sexuality education that actually educates about contraceptive choices and technologies; and to strengthen contraception research and comparative data collection. 

The declaration also calls for all modern methods of contraception, including emergency contraception without prescription, to be made available to all; and to be considered essential health care services during the current COVID-19 crisis.  

See Resolution 2331 (2020) here.