Women who use the morning-after-pill or Plan B are at high risk of developing risky pregnancies, a new study has shown.
According to a study by Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, Eldoret, women and girls using the pill are almost 10 times likely to develop a pregnancy outside the womb, called an ectopic pregnancy, compared to non-pill users.
The study, published last Thursday, also found that women who used the emergency pill and with a history of using Depo-Provera were at an increased danger of ectopic pregnancies.
Depo-Provera is a popular injectable contraceptive, but which has also been linked to a higher risk of HIV infections.
The study investigated the emergency contraceptive pills containing the hormone levonorgestrel known by the initials LNG-EC.
Some of the brands available in Kenya are Postinor-2, Smart lady (Pregnon), ECee-2 and Truston-2.
These pills are available in public and private facilities, including over the counter at private retail pharmacies.
The study, led by Sahara Shurie of Moi University, Eldoret, is now warning women and girls who use the LNG-EC pill of the high risk of developing an ectopic pregnancy.
An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilised egg implants itself outside the womb, usually in the fallopian tubes and can be life threatening.
The investigation involved 316 pregnant women at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MRTH). Some 237 of them had normal pregnancies with 79 nursing ectopic pregnancies.
The report appearing in the Pan African Medical Journal shows most of the women with ectopic pregnancies had used EC.
“One-third of those who presented ectopic pregnancy had used levonorgestrel as emergency contraceptive pill,” says the study.
This, the researchers suggest, could be attributed to a failure rate of up to 3.3 per cent, making LNG-EC less effective in preventing pregnancy compared to other contraceptives.
The women in this study were aged between 18 and 43, with those using EC doing it within the recommended time frame of 120 hours after sex.
The authors say while previously the link between LNG-EC and ectopic pregnancies has been a suspicion, their study confirmed the association.