Beware fake morning after pills

The Ministry of Health and Wellness has warned women against ‘fake’ morning-after pills bought at pharmacies, saying majority of them are actually medications for other ailments whose side effects can terminate pregnancy. Sexual Reproductive Health Officer, Lesego Mokganya says a lot of deaths are caused by women attempting to abort their pregnancies. The most affected, she said, is the reproductive age groupof 22 - 34 years. Emergency contraceptives or morning-after pills are drugs used as an oral emergency contraceptive to prevent pregnancies within 72 hours after unprotected sex. They are also used when a condom breaks, or in the event of rape and they are available over the counter. Like most drugs, the morning-after pill has got its own side effects, which are characterised by headache, vomiting, abdominal discomfort and sometimes withdrawal bleeding and delayed menstruation. Mokganya said incomplete abortions are treated quickly within two hours, to ensure that complications do not occur. “Most of the mothers that we are losing are the ones that have complications and they end up with an infection,” she said. She encouraged women to use the morning-after pills only when it is absolutely necessary and even then, they should go to a health facility where a medical officer can administer it. However, Mokganya expressed concern that women often come to the clinic when the time for the morning-after pill to be administered has lapsed and there is nothing that can be done. Mokganya said women cite lack of knowledge about services available to them, lack of support from their partners and unwanted, unplanned pregnancies as some of the reasons for committing abortion. She said bleeding during delivery or pregnancy as well as hypertensive disorders such as high blood pressure during pregnancy, are also contributing factors of maternal mortality. Mokganya said in 2014 they recorded maternal mortality rate of 189 per 1000 live births, in which 85 mothers died. In 2015, some 74 mothers lost their lives, while 2017 registered 82 deaths. So far, this year 40 lives have been lost already according to Mokganya. She said that 51 percent of pregnancies were unplanned in adults, compared to 68 percent in adolescents.