Selling Contraceptive Pills on eBay Could Lead to Unwanted Pregnancies

Selling Contraceptive Pills on eBay Could Lead to Unwanted Pregnancies

Contraceptive pills are being listed on eBay as women struggle to access family planning services during lockdown – but experts warn buying medication from the online site could lead to unwanted pregnancies. 

Sellers across Europe are advertising various brands of the birth control pill, emergency contraception and even an IUD – also known as the coil – which requires insertion by a specially trained doctor or nurse.

One anonymous seller from Manchester has listed the combined oral contraceptive pill Femodene for £22, while another from London listed a non-hormonal copper coil at £28.98.

Tracey Forsyth, the lead contraceptive nurse at British Pregnancy Advisory Service, told FEMAIL that women are ‘struggling to access contraception’ but urged them to only purchase contraception ‘via regulated services’.

‘Family planning clinics have closed or reduced hours, staff have been redeployed to the Covid-19 frontline, and as a result women cannot get appointments,’ she explained.

‘Medication purchased on sites like eBay might be fake, may offer no protection against unplanned pregnancy, and could be unsafe.

‘If women are struggling to get their usual method through their usual route, they should seek help from online pharmacies.’

Dr Diana Gall, online pharmacy Doctors4U, added that buying contraception from unknown sources can cause adverse side effects and increase the risks of unwanted pregnancies.

The consultant said: ‘The biggest danger of buying contraception or any medicines on websites such as eBay is that you simply don’t know where it has come from.

‘If you don’t know where the drug has come from then there is no guarantee that the medicine is regulated or has gone through the same strict trials, or quality and safety checks as it would from a regulated, medical provider.

‘Counterfeit drugs carry the risk of containing toxic chemicals, and may not contain any of the active ingredients needed for the drug to be effective, and this poses serious threats to your health.’

Dr Gall advised that a routine check-up should be completed every three to six months when a patient is using contraception such as the combined pill or mini pill.

She also stressed how medicated contraception can cause adverse side effects even from a regulated source and people should be questioned about their health.

‘Medicines sold on eBay may not be prescribed by medical professionals and may not have the facility to check whether this medication is suitable for the buyer, or if they have had the necessary check-ups such as blood pressure monitoring,’ Dr Gall added.

‘Even if the contraception is from a regulated source, you should always be asked questions regarding your health and any other medications you may be taking before purchasing medicines online. This is something that may not be strictly enforced on these types of private seller websites.’

‘If you rely on counterfeit contraceptive medicines without using barrier methods of protection such as condoms, you’re not only risking your health, but you’re also risking an unwanted pregnancy as the contraception is not likely to be effective.

She also stressed how medicated contraception can cause adverse side effects even from a regulated source and people should be questioned about their health.

‘Medicines sold on eBay may not be prescribed by medical professionals and may not have the facility to check whether this medication is suitable for the buyer, or if they have had the necessary check-ups such as blood pressure monitoring,’ Dr Gall added.

‘Even if the contraception is from a regulated source, you should always be asked questions regarding your health and any other medications you may be taking before purchasing medicines online. This is something that may not be strictly enforced on these types of private seller websites.’

‘If you rely on counterfeit contraceptive medicines without using barrier methods of protection such as condoms, you’re not only risking your health, but you’re also risking an unwanted pregnancy as the contraception is not likely to be effective.

It comes after a study by the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV since the coronavirus outbreak found that 86 per cent of clinics could not offer long-acting reversible contraception options such as the coil or implant.

Speaking about access to the contraceptive pill, Ms Forsyth said: ‘While GPs are supplying prescriptions, there is a long wait for telephone appointments which can mean that there is a gap during which they are not protected against unplanned pregnancy.’

She added that GPs are advising women to seek advice from contraception and sexual health (CASH) clinics, but admitted the coronavirus pandemic is an ‘incredibly difficult’ time for women.

‘Emergency contraception is an important back-up method, but women with symptoms or who need to isolate during the pandemic cannot get to the pharmacy while observing government guidance on social distancing,’ she said.

‘Many women choose long-acting methods because, once fitted, they don’t need to remember to take a daily pill which can be a struggle at the best of times, let alone during these uncertain and worrying times.’

The leading contraceptive nurse added how online pharmacies ‘provide an excellent service’ enabling women to order a six-month supply of the contraceptive pill direct to their front door.

She said: ‘This is an important alternative to access via GPs and family planning clinics because it enables women to stay at home.

‘We know many women are worried about going to clinics and pharmacies in case they contract Covid-19 and spread the virus to their children and loved ones.

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