, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 2 – Concerns have been raised over the efficacy of emergency contraceptives with a number of women complaining that they failed to work on them.
One of the women interviewed by Capital News said that she was shocked to learn of her pregnancy whereas she had used the emergency pill an hour after engaging in sex because she was not on the regular pill.
"I knew for a fact that I would be good but lo and behold, four weeks later I realised am late (her monthly period) and I gave myself a lot of reasons until I went to the doctor and he told me that I was pregnant," Njeri narrated.
"I couldn\’t believe it, I asked him what he meant by saying that I would be a mum. He told me "but you are pregnant," I told him I can\’t be pregnant because I took the E-pill," she remembers.
Njeri says that she was aware the E-pill is used just for emergency situations and she had not misused it even in the past.
"We all know that after dating for one or two years, the story of using a condom is a rumour so you use a regular pill and when you are not on that you count your days or use the E-pill and that is what I did," she says.
Njeri is now a mother to a one year old baby boy.
"I was in full denial when the doctor told me I am pregnant. The first trimester was spent in tears, I could not bring myself to accept that I was pregnant and the fact that I did take precautions and it did not work did not help," she adds.
She says she was annoyed with the manufacturer of the E-pills because according to her they did not give the right information.
"Someone should have bothered to tell us consumers that perhaps the E-pill is no longer working or there are counterfeit products in the market so that when we are buying we know what to look for so that we can tell the difference between the fake and the real one," she says.
Lydia, another lady who also got pregnant even after using the e-pill says she finds it strange that the pill did not work.
"I took an E-pill the following day and ideally it should be within 72 hours so I was on time. I took it as prescribed and a few weeks later, I realised that I was pregnant and I am not the only one, I have a friend who also has a friend who are also victims and now have babies," she recounts.
She broke up with the father of her child when he learnt of her pregnancy.
"I told him about it, he was aware I took the pills but he said that I didn\’t take them and he blamed me for getting pregnant. He was my boyfriend for some time so I assumed that it wouldn\’t be an issue to him but he blamed me. I was very upset, distraught and had a very hard pregnancy and those nine months were the worst because 90 percent of the time I was alone," she says.
Njeri and Lydia are not alone. Penina could be seven months pregnant now but unfortunately had a miscarriage in her fifth month. She also says that she had for the first time taken the E-pill the morning after but it failed to work.
However the miscarriage had nothing to do with the fact that she had taken the Emergency pill.
Ministry of Public Health Head of Reproductive Health Division Dr Shiphira Kuria told Capital News that they were yet to receive any complaints but added that the emergency pill was not as effective as regular contraception.
She said the Emergency pill was only 80 percent effective compared to the regular contraception which she said is 98 percent effective.
The efficacy of the E-pill, she said, depended on how soon it was taken.
"Yes contraception has a failure rate. For the emergency pill, if when the act was happening ovulation had taken place even if taken immediately after that it is likely to fail," Dr Kuria explained.
A gynaecologist at the Nairobi Women\’s Hospital, Dr Elizabeth Kimotho told Capital News that the emergency pill mainly failed to work when women use it as a regular method of contraception.
"When regularly used, its effectiveness goes down. It is not 100 percent sure that if you take it you are not going to conceive so we are finding a lot of women coming in here at the hospital because they have conceived after using it," Dr Kimotho said.
She said that the pill fails to work if the timing was wrong-72 hours after or if the woman takes it regularly than advised.
"Most people think it is a magic tablet but it\’s not," Dr Kimotho said.