Some of the questions in the consultation fuel this perception of pharmacists as, to use Deborah’s wonderful phrase, the sex police. Deborah points out the problems with the script.
“If there is one question that feels most awkward then it’s ‘how did it happen’. 9 out of 10 times, if I ask what happened the answer is that ‘the condom broke’ – seriously, no one would use condoms based on the evidence I’ve heard over the years.”
“People don’t want to admit they were too embarrassed to ask their partner to wear a condom, or we were in the throes of passion and didn’t pause, or I was too drunk and didn’t remember! So why are we still asking how it happened?”.
However she does add “there are some scenarios such as a missed pill which are relevant but we need to be more considered about how we ask the questions to make it feel less intrusive”
It’s thanks to Deborah’s down-to-earth view of this process that she has been one of the pioneers of ellaOne’s consultation card. This is a scratch-card that anyone can pick up at the pharmacy counter, fill out only the key information that the pharmacy assistant needs, rather than be put on the spot by the scary consultation room.
“The card is going to enable a very quick, easy consultation process for those for whom taking the morning after pill is very straightforward.
So it should help with time, as well as with people feeling less embarrassed. It will give control back to women so they feel more empowered.”
“There will be some situations where the advice or options are less straightforward but that will depend on the individual, the card will help identify those who do need some extra support or advice”
Deborah knows exactly how empowerment improves women’s access to emergency contraception. Her example is close to her heart: it’s her twenty-year-old daughter.
She’s helped her friends go and get the morning after pill. Some of them were so scared they would rather cross their fingers and hope the risk goes away, but it won’t.
With developments like the consultation card, Deborah sees hope for the future. Her hope lies not just behind the counter, but actually standing right in front of it. She sees a community of women who are increasingly confident and vocal – especially when it comes to talking openly and honestly about female sexuality.
*Deborah Evans does not endorse any medicines or branded products.