Priced at only Ksh100 in most pharmacy outlets in Kenya, Levonorgestrel or simply known as Postinor-2 or further as P2, is an emergency contraceptive pill taken by women after sex to prevent pregnancy. Other brands of the drug available in Kenya include ECEE 2, EMCON, TRUSTON 2 and LEVO-72.
Pharmaceutically it is a progesterone; a group of contraceptives whose main contraceptive effect is via an action on cervical mucus, which renders it impenetrable to sperms. It also prevents ovulation. Nevertheless, Postinor-2 cannot prevent implantation of an already fertilized ovum, hence deemed ineffective in such scenarios. It is important to note at this point that, despite the likes of “P2” being the most commonly used contraceptives in Kenya; they have a higher failure rate than the combined oral contraceptives like; Microgynon, Diane 35 and Yasmin brands.
How then should these “two simple pills” be taken to maximize their effect? First and foremost, if you really do not want to be on the I-took-the-pills-but-they-did-not-work group is by following all directions given properly. These pills work up to 95% when taken as soon as possible, 58% when taken within 48hrs.
The sooner the better and this is why you only get as many as 72hrs to walk to the pharmacy and buy them. The closer you get to the 72nd hour, the lesser the chances of it working. While there are studies that suggest that the drug might work up to 120hrs, it is upon the user to actually determine if she can wait that long to become a statistic as to whether it worked or not.
The manufacturer recommends that Postinor-2 tablets should be taken as; first tablet as soon as possible, while the second tablet should be taken 12hrs after the first one. This is the first and most workable way and obviously it’s recommended for a reason. The other way is taking the two tablets all at once.
While this method works in most women, it doesn’t in, some hence leads to failure for contraception and hence pregnancy and the stress story that always follows. So again, to be on the safe side and not another statistic of a taken pill that did not work, always take the first method as your preferable choice, you never know.
The main challenge that comes with the usage of the drug is not from the Pharmacy, but from the buyers or women. While the drug is clearly prescribed and described as an “emergency pill,” most women in Kenya have become their own determiners as to when and how the pills should be taken disregarding the instructions from those who spent years researching and formulating it.
Most Kenyan pharmacies do not have the time to explain this to the women, and will sell and close the case within one minute. Why? Because in most instances, those who buy them are always in a hurry to leave or do not want to be asked anything concerning the drug. The facts remain; the drug can only be taken once every menstrual cycle. This means you can only take it once every month at most. Taking it more often will upset your hormones and lead to hormonal imbalance disorders including but not limited to acne.
Can Postinor-2 cause cancer? This is a question many have been and are still debating, so here is what is currently known. P2 can protect women against cancers of the endometrium, ovary, pancreas, and lung, but increase their risk for breast cancer. That has been documented and listed as a fact.
Finally yet importantly, Postinor-2, ECEE 2, EMCON, TRUSTON 2 and LEVO-72 are all the same drug just from different manufacturers. You cannot take one brand to day, and the other tomorrow and claim to have taken them as recommended because they are the same. Postinor does not protect you from sexually transmitted diseases and infection; hence proper protection should and must be used to prevent those.