Health

Morning-after pill ‘should be sold off the shelf’

Women and girls should be able to get hold of emergency contraception more easily without the need for a consultation with a pharmacist, say women's health experts.

A report by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists recommends the morning-after pill "should be sold straight off the shelf", like condoms.

There are too many barriers to health services for women in the UK, it says.

And their needs should be a priority.

The report, Better for Women, is also calling for a network of one-stop health clinics for women, offering smear tests, contraceptives and advice all in one place.

At the moment, women and girls have to have a consultation with a pharmacist before they can be given an emergency contraceptive, or morning-after pill.

This can leave them feeling "uncomfortable, embarrassed or judged", the report says.

It recommends that the morning-after pill should be available "in front of the counter" and off the shelf, alongside pregnancy tests, condoms and Viagra.

Emergency contraception is available free of charge without prescription from all pharmacies in Scotland and Wales.

In England, contraception services are commissioned locally and are on offer in sexual health clinics, some GP surgeries and most pharmacies – but are not always free of charge.

The College says cuts to public health budgets have made it more difficult for women to access the services they need – figures obtained by the BBC last year suggest nearly half of councils in England had plans to reduce contraception services.

This may have led to rising conception rates and abortions among older women, because of unplanned pregnancies, the report says.

In 2018, more than 205,000 abortions were performed in England and Wales.

The report also calls for the progestogen-only contraceptive pill, taken once a day, to be available over the counter in pharmacies instead of with a prescription from a GP.

It says girls and women should be able to order the pills online like any other pharmacy product.

Prof Lesley Regan, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said the progestogen-only contraceptive pill (Pop) was very safe, and a consultation with a GP before starting to take it was "unnecessary".

The report also recommends:

  • long-term contraception should be discussed straight after a woman gives birth
  • improved access to abortions for all women
  • one-stop women's health clinics should be set up and open at weekends and evenings
  • three full cycles of IVF should be offered to all eligible women in the UK
  • GP appointment times should be extended to 15 minutes

The report said: "Too many women are spending years in pain and discomfort because [GP] appointment times are too short and demands on the time of doctors and other healtRead More – Source