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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 7. 11th April 1973

The 'Morning After' Pill

The 'Morning After' Pill

What Is It? Not just one pill but a five day course of oestrogen pills to be taken soon after intercourse to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.

How Does it Work? Very large doses of oestrogen hormone prevent implantation of the fertilised ovum into the fining of the uterus.

Isn't That an Abortion? Don't ask awkward questions. There is no precise definition of abortion and authorities can't agree on when human life begins. Rest assured that it is considered by the medical profession to be a method of contraception, not a method of abortion. Hence the medical term, Post-Coital Contraception, to you, the "Morning After" Pill.

When Should it be Used? You ought to be using better methods than this. It's strictly an emergency method.

What Sort of Emergency?

1.Maybe you were raped. (Uncommon)
2.Maybe you didn't use any method of contraception. (Very common, for a variety of reasons).
3.Maybe the method you were using failed, such as, "the condom broke", "he didn't withdraw", "I thought I was in the safe period but I'm not sure".

You Said Soon after Intercourse. How Soon? Preferably within 24 hours and no later than 72 hours. Read that again. It's probably the most important sentence.

What if the Emergency Occurs on Friday Night? You may find it bard to get a doctor in the weekend but you've got until Monday night to get a prescription and start treatment. If you're eligible to use the Student Health Service, there's always a doctor on call in the weekends for emergencies.

Can't You Just Go to a Chemist for the Pills? No. You need a prescription from a doctor.

How Much Will it Cost? Nothing. It is available free of charge, on prescription.

What If i Can't Get an Appointment with My Doctor? Tell the nurse or receplionist that it is an emergency and that you need the "morning after" pill. If you are a student and your own doctor can't see you, explain your problem to the nurse-receptionist at the Student Health Service. Ditto if you have a doctor who doesn't prescribe the "morning after" pill.

Aren't There Some Sort of Injections that Do the Same Thing? Yes. Some doctors do give injections but if you can swallow pills, why not? They're just as effective provided you take them.

Doesn't Oestrogen Cause Cancer and Blood Clots? Yes it may, but not in a short five day crash course like this. Ralph Nader's associates warned everyone about this but it has recently been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States for use in emergency as a post-coital contraceptive.

What about Side Effects? These are more unpleasant than dangerous. The commonest side effect is nausea in about 50% of cases and sometimes there is vomiting. Breast tenderness and headache may occur in a smaller proportion of cases. The next period may be out of timing and it might be heavier than usual, but you'll be glad it's arrived. Usually there is very little alteration of the menstrual cycle.

Why Shouldn't it be Used as a Once-a-Month Method? It's pretty effective. In the medical literature there are now over 5,000 cases and virtually no pregnancies as long as treatment has been given early enough and in high enought dosage.

How Long Has it been Used? The first work in humans was done by Morris and associates at Yale University in 1966, and talking of Yale, there's a good account of the method in "The Student Guide to Sex on Campus" by the Student Committee on Human Sexuality, Yale University, which is available as a Signet paperback.

Margaret Sparrow — Student Health Service.