A positive attitude

Sexuality and sexual behaviour are sensitive topics. They are part of our most private lives. When a woman asks for emergency contraception, she is disclosing that she had sexual intercourse and that the couple did not use, or had a problem with, their contraception.

When it comes to emergency contraception, some pharmacists can be confronted with his or her own prejudices. It is important to remember that couples and individuals have a right to decide freely and responsibly the timing and number of their children.1 Women who seek emergency contraception are behaving responsibly by taking steps to avoid unintended pregnancy. They need a warm approach. Treating all women in this way is always good practice, especially as some women may have been coerced to have sex (but not necessarily be disclosing this fact to you).

Unprotected sex or contraceptive failure can happen to anyone, for a number of different reasons.

Customers should always feel like they can talk to you openly and, in your role as a pharmacist, it is important to be able to have a professional conversation without judgement. Always adhere to Principle One of the Code of Conduct for pharmacists, which requires pharmacists to ensure that in instances where they are unable to provide services to a patient, they take reasonable action to ensure those medicines/services are provided and that the patient’s care is not jeopardised. If supply to a patient is likely to be affected by the personal moral standards of a pharmacist, her or she must inform their superintendent and supervising pharmacist, who must ensure that suitable policies and procedures are in place. This may have particular relevance in the supply of ellaOne®.

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It can happen to anyone
Over a woman’s fertile life it would be most unusual if there were not occasional lapses in contraceptive cover
Love (and sex) are unpredictable, but dealing with unexpected events sensibly is the responsible thing to do
Women may stop their regular contraception for many reasons, including because they have no established partner
Human behaviour is complex and sometimes unpredictable
If she’s having sex she needs reliable contraception – including emergency contraception (provided within national guidelines where they exist)