Has there been a rise in the number of requests for emergency contraception during the pandemic?
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic it was suggested that pharmacists would see a rise in requests for emergency contraception. However, anecdotal evidence from pharmacists indicates this hasn’t been the case or perhaps it’s still too early to tell.
Nonetheless, greater involvement in contraception management and advice, as well as the provision of contraception during the COVID-19 crisis is important to help avert the risk of unintended pregnancy.
The new extended Oral Contraceptive Pill (OCP) dispensing rules have allowed pharmacists to dispense a single pack of OCP, rather than just one month’s supply in instances where the person has not been able to obtain a prescription from their GP.
For those women who are currently using long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC), Family Planning Victoria in partnership with many other regional and national sexual health and fertility organisations co-signed a ‘Position Statement on LARC access during the COVID-19 pandemic.’
The statement, which provides recommendations regarding the use of LARC during the pandemic, advises the following:
- All efforts should be made to continue access to insertion of LARCs during the pandemic, particularly for younger people, people with serious health conditions, and post-abortion.
- The etonogestrel implant (Implanon NXT) can be extended off-label for use up to 4 years.
- The 52mg LNG IUD (Mirena) can be extended off-label for use up to 6 years.
- The 19.5mg LNG IUD (Kyleena) cannot be extended beyond 5 years.
- Standard sized T-shaped banded copper IUDs can be extended off-label for use up to 12 years.
- 5-year copper IUDs (Load 375 and Copper T short) can be extended off-label for use up to 6 years.
- Additional use of condoms and/or a contraceptive pill should be discussed with users for whom the risk of an unintended pregnancy is unacceptable during extended use.
- If contraception is no longer required, all LARC methods may be left in place until removal can be arranged following the COVID-19 pandemic.