New Medical and Service Delivery Guidelines on Emergency Contraceptive Pills Released
A broken condom. Missed pills. A sexual assault. These are just a few of the many situations that lead women to seek emergency contraception. When taken within five days of intercourse, emergency contraceptives can prevent most pregnancies. Emergency contraceptives are very safe, highly effective, and increasingly accessible around the world, to the relief of women everywhere.
The International Consortium for Emergency Contraception (ICEC) recently issued revised Clinical Guidelines for Emergency Contraception. These new guidelines, which reflect the most up-to-date available evidence on emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs), were widely reviewed and endorsed by many organizations, including the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO). Local programs can adapt the guidelines to comply with national policy or regional service delivery guidelines. Among the topics covered in the guidelines are ECP regimens, mechanisms, efficacy, safety, contraindications, and drug interactions. The guidelines address repeated use of ECPs as well as the initiation or resumption of regular contraceptive methods after the use of ECPs.
Additional information on emergency contraception is available in a newly published World Health Organization (WHO) Fact Sheet on Emergency Contraception. This fact sheet sheds light on the use of copper-bearing intrauterine devices (IUDs) as emergency contraception, in addition to providing information on ECPs. Though the new ICEC guidelines do not elaborate on the use of IUDs as emergency contraception, WHO recommends that a copper-bearing IUD can be inserted within five days of unprotected intercourse as an emergency contraceptive. In addition to its extreme safety and effectiveness, the IUD is a very promising emergency contraceptive option since it provides ongoing protection against pregnancy.