UPSI and the “morning after” pill levonelle should be available OTC

A recent RED C poll for the Irish Examiner found that 75% of adults between 18 and 34 had unprotected sexual intercourse (UPSI), half of these at least 10 times.. 25% of women have taken the morning after pill at least 3 times.

The poll indicates that 48% have used this pill once. The progesterone only pill levonorgestrel is relatively safe In 2006, the Food and Drugs Administration in the United States approved levonelle as an over-the-counter (OTC) pill for emergency contraception.

There are reports that 23% of users suffer side effects that include nausea, headache and vomiting. The drug reduces the pregnancy risk by 89%.

As it does not include any oestrogen, it does not have the clot risk of older mixed pills like “ovran”. People with a clotting disorder or on other drugs should consult their doctor and should be so advised by a pharmacist.

Levonelle should be available openly over-the-counter and the role of the pharmacist as clinical adviser is properly and professionally utilised and enhanced to avoid drug interactions. Patients should go to their doctor for a considered decision about contraception and the appropriate choice of agent given the evidence about the relative risks of clots especially with the various different “pill” formulations and the avoidance of high blood pressure – but not necessarily in the throws of a contraceptive emergency.

Age of consent – The Irish limit should be 16 years with no offence for those within 2 years of age of each other and lesser for those within 3 years of each other. It is clear that there is no “correct” answer and the limit is culturally driven.

Aged 17 – Ireland-  Texas, New York, Louisiana, South Australia, Tasmania

Aged 20 – Tunisia

Aged 18 include Idaho, North Dakota, Turkey, Uganda, Gabon, Swaziland, Viet Nam, California,

Aged 16, most of EU countries incl UK, Norway, New Zealand, Venezuala, Connecticut, Austrlia ACT, NSW, Finland, Fiji, Switzerland

Aged 15 – France, Ethiopia, Greece, Guinea, Iceland

Aged 14 Lithuania, Peru, Italy, Estonia, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Moldove, Montenegro, Serbia