Explainer: Why men can't buy the morning after pill

Health

Explainer: Why men can't buy the morning after pill

BY BRITTNY HUTCHINSON
Observer writer
editorial@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, January 17, 2021

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Thirty-seven-year-old Kenny thought he was being a good husband by offering to run to the pharmacy for his wife. She needed emergency contraceptives, often referred to as the morning after pill. He went to several pharmacies but none would allow him to make the purchase.

“They tell me that I cannot purchase it, and I should let my wife buy it instead because she has personal questions to answer,” the young man, who did not want his last name used, told the Jamaica Observer. “I feel bad, especially because she is my wife. I simply want to purchase it for her; it shouldn't have to be such a difficult process.”

However, president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Jamaica (PSJ) Dr Ernestine Watson, who stressed that emergency contraceptives should only be taken under specific conditions, explained the rationale behind limiting their purchase to women. It is an approach that is in line with the Pharmacy Act.

“The pharmacist has to do counselling with the person who is supposed to be taking the medication and that is the reason why it should be sold to the person taking [it],” she explained. “Taking the contraceptive must be a woman's choice. You don't want an occasion where a man buys the pill and forces a woman to take it, especially in the case of an emergency contraceptive. So we want to ensure that the person who takes it is aware of the risks and knows what they are taking.”

Emergency contraceptives, which include Postinor, Nex't Plan, Pregnon, can only be purchased at pharmacies and run between $750 - $1800. A patient has three days to take the medication after unplanned intercourse.

“Some patients believe that they can use the emergency contraceptives in the same manner as the oral contraceptive— they would have sex knowing that they can use the emergency contraceptive, which they do on a regular basis. However, the risks involved with the emergency contraceptive is higher because there is a higher dose of oestrogen,” said Dr Watson.

She explained that oral contraceptives are safer to use, as emergency contraceptives can cause increased blood clots, cancers, and embolism.

Dr Watson added that emergency contraceptives should only be used three or four times per year.


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