Gargi Parsai

It should not suggest that one could go in for unprotected sex because of ready access to pill

Doctors say repeated use as a method of contraception must be discouraged

NEW DELHI: The Drug Controller of India has asked manufacturers of the Emergency Contraception (EC) pill to modify their advertisements that have suddenly burst on the television channels. The advertisements show a woman expressing fear of pregnancy after unprotected sex, and her friend advises her to take the EC pill. Both women are then seen walking hand in hand with their male partners — all television stars — saying they were now “tension free.”

Medical practitioners, who participated in the National Consensus on Rational Use of Emergency Contraception in India here on Monday, while appreciating the “positive impact” of the ads in generating awareness, suggested that they carry a word of caution about the “emergency use.”

‘No substitute’

“The EC pill is not a substitute for regular methods of contraception. It should not be conveyed that you could go in for unprotected sex because you have access to EC pill. Rather, it should be that because you’ve had unprotected sex, you have the option of an EC pill to prevent pregnancy. Repeated use of the EC pill as a method of contraception should be discouraged,” said Suneeta Mittal, chief coordinator, Consultation and Head of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences. The doctors wanted this aspect highlighted in the ad campaigns.

They stressed that the EC pill was not a protection against reproductive tract infections, sexually-transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS. Also, it was not to be used as an abortion pill. At the same time, they did not want television ads to “stigmatise” abortion.

Depending upon when the EC pill is taken during the menstrual cycle, it could prevent or delay egg formation, interfere with fertilisation to stop a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus. It should be taken within five days of unprotected sex. However, the EC pill is not effective once pregnancy is already there, say the doctors.