Emergency contraceptive pills or the morning after pills are popularly referred to as P2 in Kenya. As the name suggests, they are only to be used in cases of emergency.
But is that how we use them? Truth be told, some women have now turned to P2 as a form of birth control which shouldn’t be the case. With so many questions being asked about this magical pill that is supposed to prevent pregnancy, we talked to a reproductive nurse with over three decades of experience in the area.
Mercy Wambui, a reproductive nurse at Nanyuki Teaching and Referral Hospital answers basically everything you have ever wanted to know about these pills.
As you might already know, the small packet usually has two small pills inside it. Now, how you take them can change everything for good, or for worse. This nurse tells us that, “one pill is to be taken as soon as possible after unprotected intercourse but within 120 hours. Repeat the same dose in 12hrs. In 5 days, you should have taken a total of 2 pills.”
And if this is too much work for you or you fear that your memory is going to fail you, Mercy adds; “The two 750mog can also be taken as a single dose as soon as possible after unprotected intercourse but within 120 hours. This dosing regime is preferred because it is easier to comply with a one dose regime.”
The instructions are quite easy, right? If for any reason, you do not follow these rules, then blame it all unto yourself if the P2 backfires on you. Unless you want to be one of those women who claim that they still got pregnant even after using P2.
This means that if you decide to only take one pill or forget to take the other, they might not work. And if you take them after 5 days or 120 hours, they also might not work. So, the earlier the better.
Another common mistake that women make is using P2 while pregnant. Honey, if you are already pregnant, they won’t do the magic. I know amid all the confusion and fears, you will want to try any trick because the thought of pregnancy is probably the last thing you want. Sadly, P2 will not terminate the pregnancy. That’s why they insist that you should take the dose as soon as possible after unprotected sex.
P2 is not for everyone
Not everyone is supposed to take P2. Yes, you read that right. This nurse tells us that it is very important to consult someone with the knowledge of family planning before you buy the drug over the counter. After talking to a specialist in the area, they will guide you on the next best step.
“Certain diseases require emergency pills to be taken with caution e.g. someone with a history of severe heart diseases, stroke or other thrombotic conditions (clotting diseases), severe liver diseases, migraine headache, and angina pecteris.” Mercy tells Pulse Live.
If you are on drugs, you should also tell your doctor. This is because some drugs like anticonvulsants, some ARTS, and antifungals affect P2’s effectiveness.
Of course, when you dash to the chemist and ask for P2, the pharmacist won’t care to ask your health condition. They will just give you what you want which is yet another reason to consult someone with the knowledge of family planning.
Why P2 backfires
People still get pregnant even after using P2 probably because they took them late, were on some other medication or didn’t complete the dose. But there are also two more reasons why these pills may not work; expired P2 and fake P2. You might not know if the pills are fake but you can read the expiry date on the packet.
To avoid buying counterfeit P2, Mercy advises that, “The best thing to do is to avoid quacks. Buy from a government facility or enquire from a pharmacist on where you can get genuine P2.”
On how often one should use P2, she tells us it’s not very clear since some scientists say it should only be taken twice a year and others say once a month. But she insists that it still should not be taken frequently since it worsens some health conditions and causes hormonal imbalance.