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Contraception During Quarantine, All Your Questions Answered

Accessing the pill should be relatively uninterrupted...

A coronavirus baby boom is predicted for later this year. 

The memes circulating on social media have been plentiful, predicting social isolation will see quarantined couples finding solace and distraction through intimacy, spawning a generation jokingly (we hope) referred to ‘coronials’.

With millions of romantic partners home together indefinitely, experts are surmising that, come December, there could be an influx of births around the world. Like World War II and Hurricane Sandy before it, the coronavirus lockdown could be set to join the list of natural disasters and global events that cause fertility trend to spike. 

With all of that in mind, we asked Fiona Treacy, a Supervising Pharmacist in Galway, some of the more common questions around accessing the contraceptive pill during the quarantine. Scroll on to read her answers... 

Have supply chains for contraceptive pills been interrupted at all by COVID-19?

No. There are no medicine shortages currently affecting the Irish market which are as a result of COVID-19. However, there are some delays in the supply chain, as wholesalers have implemented daily or weekly allocations on products to ensure all pharmacies get the stock they need and prevent bulk buying at a pharmacy level.

Is it advisable to stock up while we can? 

No. Bulk buying by patients is not advisable, as it could disrupt existing stock levels and hamper the supply of medicines for others.

What are my options if the prescription for my pill is on file at a pharmacy outside of the 2km radius? 

There is no issue going beyond the 2km radius to buy food or medicines. The 2km radius is in relation to exercising locally. If your prescription is on file at a pharmacy outside of the 2km radius you may travel to that pharmacy to get your prescription.  If it is on file at a pharmacy which, for some reason, you will not be able to access, it may be possible to get an emergency supply from a pharmacy in your vicinity.

If I can’t get an appointment with my GP to get an initial prescription or a renewal, what can I do?

You have a few options:

1. Your own GP may issue you with a prescription by carrying out a consultation with you over the phone or video call or they may issue you with a repeat prescription without seeing you. This prescription may be left for collection, posted to you or to your pharmacy or securely emailed to your pharmacy to follow later in the post. This will depend on the specific practice in place in your GP’s surgery and you should call the surgery reception to check available options.

2. There is also the possibility of getting a prescription through one of the online doctor services. These services can be used for an initial prescription or for a renewal. 

3. If you are currently using a contraceptive medicine but cannot get a new prescription in time to start a new pack it is possible to get an emergency supply of one month. It is best to access this at your regular pharmacy if possible. 

It's also worth noting that while typically, prescriptions are legally valid for 6 months from the date of writing, an Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced on 27 March that there will be legal provision put in place so that pharmacists will be permitted to dispense medicines outside the current period of validity of the existing prescription in line with the pharmacist’s clinical judgement. In short, this announcement means this length of time will be increased to allow for more repeats of long term medicines, such as the contraceptive pill. However, as of today, 1 April, no changes to regulations have been made.

If no-one in my household is able to pick up my prescription due to self-isolation, can I contact a local pharmacy about home-delivery options?

Yes, some pharmacies have the capability to carry out home-delivery but not all. If home delivery is not available, check-in with an extended family member, friend or neighbour to see if they can help you, ensuring you stick to self-isolation guidelines. 

Is emergency contraception still available in pharmacies, as normal?

Yes, emergency contraception is still available as long as social distancing guidelines and patient privacy can be maintained. In many cases, this will mean that the required consultation may have to take place over the phone. It would be best to ring your pharmacy in advance to see what procedures they have in place.

Read More: Can The Contraceptive Pill Cure My Adult Acne? We Asked An Expert