Improved access to free emergency contraception
Women who wish to prevent an unplanned pregnancy can access emergency contraception (the morning after pill) at Western Cape healthcare facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic, and beyond. They can access the provincial department of health’s family planning website to view the operating times of facilities nearest to them.
Emergency contraception is free at all primary healthcare facilities on weekdays during working hours, as well as after-hours and on weekends at selected facilities. Women can access also other forms of contraception at these facilities, which all are taking adequate precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Emergency contraception can be used as an emergency pill by women who forget to take their birth control pills, have a condom break during intercourse, or have unprotected sex for other reasons (including victims of sexual assault). It is a method of birth control to be used occasionally, in specific unexpected or emergency situations, not as a primary form of birth control.
A woman does not need a physical exam or any lab tests to get emergency contraception at our health facilities. However, she should take it as soon as possible after unprotected sex. It is most effective within the first day of unprotected sex, but it can work up to five days (120 hours) later. Women can take emergency contraception at any time during their menstrual cycle.”
Women who use emergency contraception do not need to see a healthcare worker after taking it. It is safe to use, and it does not have long-term consequences. However, they should have a pregnancy test if their period does not occur within three or four weeks or if they develop unusual vaginal bleeding or abdominal pain.
The use of contraception provides benefits to both individual and general population health by reducing numbers of pregnancies, particularly high-risk pregnancies. World Contraception Day commemorated on 26 September challenges women and couples to make informed decisions, plan every pregnancy, and reduce unintended pregnancies that are likely to be riskier, particularly if they end in unsafe abortion.
Women who are interested in our family planning services can access our website at: www.westerncape.gov.za/site-page/family-planning