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:

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.

UK: Access to EC ‘hit by lockdown’

June 2020. The use of emergency contraception (EC) pills dropped in the United Kingdom during the months of lockdown due to COVID-19 crisis. According to news from the BBC and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, direct sales in the pharmacy fell by 50% from March to April. Prescriptions for EC  pills issued by National Health Service (NHS) clinics, declined by around 20%.

Read the BBC report here and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society piece here.

ICEC and FIGO’s EC Medical and Service Delivery Guidance available in French

June 2020. The fourth edition of ICEC and FIGO’s Emergency Contraceptive Pills Medical and Service Delivery Guidance is now available in French. “Pilules contraceptives d’urgence. Directives médicales et de prestation de services”, originally published in English in December 2018, serves as a key reference and training document for service provision of EC.  The French edition of this guidance as been possible thanks to the support of DKT International.

Youth and EC

June 2020. ECEC participated in the webinar organised by FP2020 “Emergency contraception and young people. Your questions answered” on June 16th. These are some of the issues addressed:

·       What are the facts about young people’s use of EC? Does it match our assumptions?

·       Is it safe for young people to use EC frequently? How frequent is too frequent?

·       How can you best balance advocacy for EC with longer acting methods?

The recording can be watched in English and in French.

Ensuring access to EC during COVID-19: Switzerland

June 2020. In the past few months, during the lockdown due to COVID-19, there has been uncertainty about access to abortion, STI testing and emergency contraception (EC). In Switzerland, SANTÉ SEXUELLE SUISSE (the umbrella organization of sexual health centres) called upon its members to continue providing sexual and reproductive health counselling and services during the pandemic. Furthermore, some sexual health centres developed creative approaches to ensure vulnerable populations access during these times.

In the canton of Vaud, Fondation PROFA launched a collaboration with local pharmacies, in order to make sure that EC remained available for women under the age of 20 at a reduced and affordable price in some pharmacies of the region.

According to the project leader, Dr. Catherine Gruillot, this has been an effective approach: «We have had some feedback already and it’s going well. Pharmacies dispense EC within the framework we have set together and we provide clients with a list of pharmacies. Women receive information and counselling by telephone from either a sexual health counsellor or a doctor and she is informed of where to obtain her oral EC. She is offered a follow up appointment at our clinic. This system appears to be working after just a few days of implementation!»