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Promotion to encourage use of Emergency Pill

Joint promotion to encourage use of Emergency Contraceptive Pill

Hawke’s Bay women, had 498 pregnancies terminated during 2002, and there were 180 teen pregnancies (young girls aged 19 and under) in the same year. This is well above the national rate for teen pregnancies, which has prompted FPA (formerly known as the Family Planning Association) and Hawke’s Bay District Health Board’s health promotion team to join forces to promote awareness of the emergency contraceptive pill.

The emergency contraceptive pill is available to any woman who has had unprotected sex i.e. they’ve had sex but did not use contraception or the contraception they used failed.

The emergency contraceptive pill can be used up to 72 hours after sex – it is not an abortion pill, it prevents pregnancy, by stopping the woman’s egg from being released in most cases or by stopping it implanting in the uterus

Gill Lough, FPA educator, said she receives a number of calls on Mondays from women who have had unprotected sex over the weekend, wanting to know where they can get the emergency contraceptive pill.

The emergency contraceptive pill is available through GPs, registered pharmacists, school nurses, Directions Youth Health Centre, in Hastings and through the Sexual Healthline (06) 834 1878.

Hawke’s Bay District Health Board health promoter, Shari Tidswell, says in the past the “Morning After” pill made some women feel very sick. “The emergency contraceptive pill is a huge improvement, it’s a totally different pill, and because it’s progesterone-only has few side effects.

In 2002 law changes enabled pharmacists to dispense the emergency contraceptive pill from their pharmacy. Pharmacists need to undertake additional training to become certified to dispense the emergency contraceptive pill.

Hawke’s Bay Pharmacies with a certified pharmacist display a purple poster in the window indicating the emergency contraceptive pill also known as the “ECP” is available from that pharmacy.

Shari said pregnancy was just one of the risks of unprotected sex. “You could also contract a sexually transmitted infection (STI) so it is important to get this checked out. You can see your GP, school nurse or call Sexual Health line (06) 834 1878.

Nationally, the termination rate for women aged 15-24 increased by over 60% between 1988 to 2000.

New Zealand has the second highest teen pregnancy rate of western countries. Otago University research published in 2002 found that 6 out of 10 pregnancies for women under 25 years were unintended.

“Prevention is always best, and the only truly reliable way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections is not to have sex - the next best thing is using condoms correctly.

“Condoms are effective in preventing sexually transmitted infections, however condoms can break or slip off due to incorrect use. Condoms are available on prescription from GPs and across the counter at pharmacies, supermarkets and vending machines at pubs and clubs.

“We all make mistakes and even when we plan carefully things can go wrong. With the emergency contraceptive pill, women can make a responsible decision within 72 hours of unprotected sex, rather than having to make a very difficult decision a month later,” Shari Tidswell said.

For more information, phone FPA (06) 844 0399, or visit the Napier Health Centre resource room. Websites are also a great source of information – check out,, and

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