Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT.

Morning after pills may have higher failure rate for heavy women

Recent studies show that morning after pills, or emergency contraceptives, could be less effective at preventing pregnancies for heavier women. The European Medicines Agency will therefore review the failure rates of all brands available on the European market.

Morning after pills are emergency birth control pills which could be taken within three days of unprotected sex to prevent roughly 85 percent of expected pregnancies. But recent studies have shown that these pills may have less of an effect on heavier women.

Last fall a European brand of morning after pills changed their labelling, where it currently says that the contraceptive effect goes down if the woman weighs over 75 kilos and may cease to work at all if the woman weighs over 80 kilos. This has caused the European Medicines Agency to initiate a Europe-wide review to assess the success rates of morning after pills, a decision that has been welcomed by the Swedish Medical Agency.

"Only one brand out of Sweden's four has been reviewed so far, and it is only natural that you go through all of them and update the labels," says Viveca Odlind at the Swedish Medical Agency.

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