Concern over ‘huge demand’ for morning-after-pill at weekends

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THERE is huge demand from young girls who are getting drunk on Saturday nights and having unprotected sex for the morning after pill on Sundays from pharmacies in the area as a means of emergency contraception, it’s been claimed.

A source told the MAIL that the demand for the morning after pill is high in Cookstown, especially on Sundays, however the Health and Social Care Board has said it does not hold information on the number of sales of emergency hormonal contraception which take place in a pharmacy.

“It’s a disgrace. These girls go out, get drunk, then have unprotected sex and they think nothing of going and asking for the pill. It’s really disgusting,” she said.

Not long ago this was seen as a last resort, now young women, part of the binge-drinking generation, are gambling with their health.

As well as the morning after pill being regularly prescribed, young women can buy it in pharmacies, or if they want anonymity, they can make the purchase online.

Statistics show that during 2011/12 there were 11,628 prescriptions dispensed for emergency hormonal contraception across Northern Ireland.

And figures from the Office of National Statistics suggest around a quarter of a million women in the UK have taken the morning after pill at least three times in a year.

The long‑term health risks of taking this heavy dose of hormones regularly are unknown largely because the manufacturers have never marketed the morning-after pill as a regular contraceptive method.

According to statistics, the success rate of one particular brand is nearly 95 per cent when taken on the first day. This drops to 85 per cent when taken between 25 and 48 hours and to 58 per cent when taken between 49 and 72 hours.

All the family planning clinics in the Mid-Ulster area provide a walk-in facility for patients who require emergency contraception.

If young women wish to seek advice on contraception and family planning, the clinics in Cookstown and Magherafelt are as follows - Cookstown FP Clinic, 52 Orritor Road, tel 028 8672 3812 held on Wednesdays from 7pm to 9pm and Thursdays from 9am to 11am; Magherafelt FP Clinic, 31 Garden Street, tel 028 7939 5150 held on Tuesdays from 2pm to 4pm and from 7pm to 8:30pm.

A spokesperson for the Health and Social Care Board said pharmacists who provide a rota service on a Sunday will dispense prescriptions which are deemed to be urgent for whatever reason.

“Sales of over the counter medicines including the emergency hormonal contraception may also take place during this period,” she added.