A survey showed that only 13 percent of 500 young women in the Philippines have knowledge of emergency contraceptive (EC) pills or the Yuzpe method, which has an 88 percent efficacy rate if taken within 72 hours after conception.
DKT Philippines Foundation, a leader for health market innovations, shared this information from their commissioned study.
“These pills fill a need when sex is infrequent or unexpected, which is often the case for people just entering their sexually active years,” Foundation Chair Hyam Bolande said during a virtual forum.
“EC pills can provide the last line of safe defense against unwanted pregnancy when the male partner doesn’t use a condom,” he added.
Though teenage pregnancy has been a long-time problem in the Philippines, the government has recently raised the alarm for better methods to lower the case as the numbers continue to rise even with efforts.
In June, President Rodrigo Duterte declared the prevention of teen pregnancies a “national priority” in Executive Order 141, which called for measures to address the problem, including strengthening sexual education so that adolescents can make more informed decisions.
Births to teen mothers soared to 495 per day in 2019. Teenage pregnancy affects nearly six percent of Filipino girls, which is the second-highest rate in Southeast Asia, based on Save the Children’s 2019 Global Childhood Report.
DKT Philippines Foundation said the lack of awareness on the emergency contraceptive pills, also referred to as the “morning-after pills” method holds back the country to combat the rising adolescent pregnancy rates.
The study also revealed there are only one of four unmarried women aged 18 to 29 who are sexually active who aware that it is possible to prevent pregnancy after unprotected intercourse with contraceptive pills.
More than two in three said they had unprotected sex before.
The same proportion 68 percent reported having experienced “pregnancy scares” before, with the number of such scares averaging 2.7.
In addition, 94 percent of this group of women also reported suffering negative emotional states after unprotected sex, such as fear of pregnancy, anxiety, guilt, and sadness.
In a follow-up online survey conducted by the foundation, nearly one-third oof Filipino doctors and midwives active in family planning said they were not aware of the Yuzpe method.
In that same informal survey in October, however, 85 percent of the healthcare providers reported they had patient inquiries about emergency contraception.
First introduced in the United Kingdom in 1984, emergency contraceptive pills have emerged as one of the world’s principal family-planning methods and are now approved for use in 149 countries.
The Yuzpe method can prevent pregnancy as long as these are taken 72-120 hours after unprotected intercourse, depending on the type. They are most effective, studies show if taken quickly after.
Even if mistakenly taken too late, EC annot harm a fetus or end a pregnancy, the group’s chief said.
WHO guidelines stated there are no age limits for use of EC, and any woman or girl of reproductive age may use the method safely. – PNA