The Morning After Pill in Malta
What is it?
The morning after pill (also known as Plan B or the day after pill) is a type of emergency contraception. It is a special type of contraceptive that is used after a woman has had sex to prevent pregnancy. It can be used after unprotected sex (no contraceptive was used at all) or after a regular contraceptive has failed (eg: a condom burst).
The EllaOne, a type of morning after pill, can be taken up to five days after sex. However, the sooner a morning after pill is taken, the more likely it is to prevent pregnancy.
The morning after pill does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). If you believe you may be at risk of an STI, see your GP or attend GUM clinic.
The morning after pill is available in Malta without the need of a doctor's prescription, but barriers to accessing it still exist.
Important facts about the morning after pill
The morning after pill works by preventing pregnancy. It does not cause an abortion. It is not an abortion pill.
The morning after pill is around 75% effective at preventing pregnancy. The sooner it is taken, the more effective it will be.
Taking the morning after pill does not reduce your fertility in the future.
There is no limit to how many times you can take the morning after pill, although you should consider a regular contraceptive such as the regular pill if you wish to prevent pregnancy in the future. Regular contraceptives are generally cheaper than the morning after pill. Click here for more information about regular contraceptives in Malta.
If you take a morning after pill, you should not rely on the regular contraceptive pill until your next period. This is because the morning after pill can make the regular pill less effective for a few days. If you take a morning after pill you should use condoms until your next period.
Cost and Types of Morning After Pill
Prices for emergency contraception in Malta vary from EUR 19 to EUR 25 per pill in most cases.
EllaOne contains the ingredient ulipristal acetate. It prevents pregnancy by modifying the action of the natural hormone progesterone. It should be taken as soon as possible after sex, although it can still work up to five days (120 hours) after sex. No dose adjustment is necessary for women in the overweight or obese BMI range. Women with severe asthma or severe liver disease should seek medical advice before taking EllaOne.
For more information about EllaOne see the patient information leaflet here.
There is also more information on EllaOne's UK website: www.ellaone.co.uk
The other morning after pills contain the medication levonorgestrel, which is a type of hormone that prevents pregnancy. The pills that contain levonorgestrel can be taken up to 3 days (72 hours) after sex. Women who are obese may need to take a double dose of levonorgestrel-based pills.
Levonelle and Escapelle are two morning after pills that contain levonorgestrel 1.5mg and are available in Malta.
Escapelle's website allows you to find pharmacies that sell it, and it also covers Malta:
There is also more information about Escapelle on its website: www.escapelle.com
Know your rights
Pharmacists who refuse to dispense the morning after pill for moral reasons should tell you where you will be able to purchase it.
As professionals, all pharmacists must treat their clients in a non-judgemental and confidential manner. If you feel that this is not the case, you should make a complaint with the pharmacy or the authorities.
In Malta the morning after pill is available without the need for a doctor's prescription, and therefore a pharmacist should not ask for one. However, a pharmacist may ask you to see a doctor if you have a health condition that may make the morning after pill unsafe.
There is no limit to how many times you can purchase the morning after pill.
In Malta, people are generally deemed able to make decisions about their health when they reach the age of 16 years. The age of sexual consent is also 16 years. Therefore, there should be no barriers to 16 and 17 year olds accessing the morning after pill.
Getting the Morning After Pill in Malta
The morning after pills are available over the counter (no doctor's prescription needed) from many pharmacies across Malta and Gozo. However, individual pharmacists are allowed to conscientiously object from dispensing it. This means that certain pharmacists may refuse to sell you the morning after pill, but they are obliged to inform you of other pharmacists who would be willing to dispense it. As professionals, all pharmacists must remain non-judgemental and maintain confidentiality.
The website pharmacy.com.mt has a list of pharmacies in Malta that stock the morning after pill.
A significant disadvantage is that the morning after pill is not currently available at the public hospital. This is a problem for women who are admitted to hospital (eg: after a sexual assault) and wish to have the morning after pill. What usually happens in these situations is that a friend or relative is asked to purchase the morning after pill from an outside pharmacy. As doctors for choice, we believe this is less than ideal and we believe the morning after pill should be available in the public hospital to genuine cases.