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More access to morning after pill in Europe than ever before

8 March 2016  •  Author: Victoria White

New research released on International Women’s Day reveals more than three in four European women (77%) are aware of the morning after pill as an option for managing the risk of an unplanned pregnancy.

morning after pill

The 20 market European study conducted by HRA Pharma, marks the one year anniversary of a ruling by the European Commission authorising advanced emergency contraceptive ellaOne (ulipristal acetate 30mg) to be accessible direct from pharmacy without a prescription from a doctor. The change in regulation means that now 114 million women in Europe now have direct access to the only contraceptive pill that works when pregnancy risk is at its highest, right before ovulation.

The research also looks at the behaviours of 16-35 year old European women on the topics of sex and emergency contraception and promisingly finds that seven in 10 would be happy to visit their local pharmacy should they need the emergency contraceptive pill. However this number drops in European markets like Italy and Germany which have only recently switched to OTC. Here women are still more likely to seek an appointment with their GP (45% and 59% respectively).

Commenting on the research, Frédérique Welgryn, Women’s Health Therapeutic Domain Director from HRA Pharma, said: “Giving women the freedom to buy the morning after pill from their local pharmacy empowers them to choose the contraceptive option that’s right for them, whatever the circumstances. Emergency contraception is not a regular form of contraception and is most effective when taken in the first 24 hours. Therefore appointment free access ensures women who have had a contraceptive failure but who are not ready to have a baby can genuinely take it at the earliest opportunity.”

Almost 2 in 5 (38%) European women reported that regular sex is an important part of relationships and more than half (52%) feel that being spontaneous is a sign of a satisfying sex life. But with spontaneity often comes the risk of unplanned pregnancy and this may be behind the reason why across Europe, 45% of all pregnancies are unintended.

“Healthcare professionals must recognise that sexual relations are not always planned and where unprotected sex has occurred, which is the case in 30% of sexual intercourses, the emergency contraceptive pill is a smart, positive, choice. It is critical women are able to access this treatment at any time without fear of judgement,” continued Frédérique Welgryn.

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