Is it dangerous to repeat emergency contraceptive pills within 6 months? #706/14

My girlfriend and I had a condom break in May, for which she took emergency contraceptive pills.  Her bleeding came on the 10th of June, which was about 3-4 days earlier than usual. 

 

The issue now is today the condom broke again.  A friend of hers told her that is not recommended for her to take emergency contraceptive pills again within 6 months of having taken a dose of it.  Is this true?  Or, would there not be a problem if she took the pills again?



 

Take that repeat dose:  it is NOT in the slightest dangerous.  It will help prevent an unintended pregnancy.

 

How difficult would it be for you and for her were there to be a pregnancy right now?

 

What method of contraception are you and she going to use going forward?  Have you considered using 2 condoms at once since you have had two condom breaks recently?

 

Below is some information on using 2 condoms:

 

Q:        What is the evidence that 2 condoms may be used at once?  Who does this?  What are their reasons for doing this?  What are the other things that can do done to prevent condom breakage?  Are there some men and some women who have sexual intercourse in a manner that predisposes them to have repeated condom breaks or repeated condom slippage?

 

A:    Here are the techniques prostitutes use to prevent breakage:

Among the most-cited techniques to prevent breakage were use of additional water-soluble lubricant (64%); monitoring the condition of the condom regularly throughout intercourse (20%); refraining from rough, vigorous sex (18%); using appropriately sized condoms (5%); and changing condoms during prolonged intercourse (5%).  Many of these tips have previously been suggested to prevent condom breakage.

 

            Use of multiple condoms simultaneously was also a frequently reported method (9%) to prevent breakage.  Twenty-nine women (66%) reported that at least one client had worn two condoms concurrently during intercourse in the previous year, for a total of more than 5,000 concurrent uses.  Eight women reported doubling up condoms during every act of commercial intercourse in the previous year.  Visual inspection of the used condoms from the prospective trial revealed that condoms were doubled up in 10.8% of the 372 sexual episodes.  Condoms were doubled up primarily to prevent breakage when women had experienced a prior condom break, when the client’s penis was very large, when the client presented with unidentifiable penile sores or track marks, when a thin condom was being used, and when the client requested it.  To avoid friction, women reported applying additional lubricant between the condoms.

[Albert – 1995]

 

Albert reported a retrospective breakage rate much lower than other reported studies.  There were 49 breaks reported in the course of 41,127 acts of intercourse (0.12%).  This comes to a breakage rate of:

1 condom break per 849 acts of intercourse.

 SO LOW!

 

In her prospective study, 41 women used condoms during 353 acts of vaginal intercourse.  A water based lubricant was used 89% of the time and oil-based lubricants were not used at all.  There were no breaks at all (0/353) and lack of breakage was confirmed by visual inspection of all condoms by the senior author of the paper.  (Condoms had been placed in zip-locked bags).

 

When women receive a license to be a prostitute in Nevada, they must be HIV negative.  Between July 1, 1988 and December 31, 1993, more than 20,000 HIV tests were conducted on licensed prostitutes.  None of the women employed in any Nevada brothel tested positive at the time of follow-up HIV testing.  These are in sharp contrast to HIV prevalence rates in other female prostitutes in the United States and elsewhere.

 

A 1988 study found 5,000 cases of gonorrhea in Nevada, only 9 of which were detected in legal brothels.  More than 7,000 sexually transmitted disease tests conducted between 1982 and 1989 on 246 cases of syphilis and 19 cases of gonorrhea, all reportedly contracted before implementation of Nevada‘s mandatory condom law.

 

Although the actual exposure level of brothel workers to clients with HIV and other sexually transmitted disease infections is not known, the absence of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases may be explained by the fact that clients are required to use condoms during every sexual act.

 

Clearly Albert has documented that use of 2 condoms in a high-risk group of women does not place them at risk for increased rates of condom breakage or increased rate of infection.

 

There is a final lesson to be learned from Albert’s fascinating study.  Condom mishaps are not evenly distributed among all condom users.  In the retrospective phase of Dr. Alexa Albert’s study, the 44 women relating their experience with condom breakage, slippage and falling off reported:

 

Of the 49 total breaks in the year prior to the study, 20 (41%) were reported by 1 woman.  Fourteen of the 42 instances of slippage in the previous month (33%) were reported by another woman.  Likewise, 48 of the 103 instances of slippage in the previous year (47%) were reported by only 3 women. [Albert-1995] 

 

Summary:  Use of two condoms is a common practice among legal prostitutes in Nevada.  Condom breakage rates are extraordinarily low among these women.  Here is an important practical lesson from Dr. Alexa Albert’s work: When we see women and men who have experienced multiple breaks or slippages, we would be wise to encourage them to use 2 condoms.

  

To learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of condoms and emergency contraceptive pills, go to: www.managingcontraception.com and click on Choices 2013 edition.  You can also order this wonderful new educational book from our website or by calling 404-875-5001.  Do you have your copy yet?  It is now available in English and Spanish.   



Key Words:  condom, break, sex, emergency contraceptive pills, bleeding, early, recommended, repeat dosage, prevent, unintended sexual intercourse, penis, Dr. Alexa Albert

Posted 7-10-2014, Updated 7-15-2014, Updated 8-7-2014

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August 7, 2014