Rev. Dr. Dennis Sena Awitty, the Executive Secretary of the society, expressed these worries in an interview with the Daily Graphic.
He emphasized the pressing need for enhanced education to help those misusing ECP understand the potential long-term consequences of their actions.
Dr. Awitty clarified that although there was currently no documented evidence of the long-term side effects of ECP misuse, it was crucial to acknowledge that using the medication persistently and repeatedly for purposes other than intended could have unforeseen side effects.
“The name of the medicine itself implies emergency contraception. It should be used when a specific event occurs, but the persistent and repeated use of it could lead to unknown side effects, which are generally not pleasant,” Dr. Awitty explained.
He further elaborated on the possible short-term side effects, including nausea and vomiting, which are common with hormonal medicines.
However, the long-term consequences remain uncertain and require further investigation.
Understanding Emergency Contraceptive Pills:
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines emergency contraception as methods to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sexual intercourse.
While they are recommended for use within five days, their effectiveness increases when used sooner after intercourse.
These pills are intended for any woman or girl of reproductive age who wishes to avoid an unwanted pregnancy.
However, the WHO cautioned against frequent and repeated use of ECP, especially for women with medical conditions categorized as medical eligibility criteria two, three, or four for combined hormonal contraception or progestin-only contraceptives.
Continuous use may result in increased side effects like menstrual irregularities, although it poses no known health risks when used repeatedly.
The WHO advised women considering ECP as their primary contraception method to seek additional counseling regarding more appropriate and effective contraceptive options.
Dr. Awitty highlighted the rigorous regulatory process that medicines undergo before entering the market. While many side effects may remain unknown until the medication is widely used and market surveillance is conducted, they are documented and added to the medication’s profile over time.
He urged those misusing ECP to consider not only the potential long-term side effects but also the heightened risk of contracting incurable sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B, syphilis, and gonorrhea through unprotected intercourse.
“Generally, one should avoid using medicines when alternative options are available. Most medicines are meant to heal but can cause harm when not used properly,” he added, underlining the dual nature of the term “pharmacy,” derived from the Greek word “pharmako,” signifying both healing and harm,” he said.