Sex, stigma, and the morning after pill - our #MyMorningAfter panel spilt all 7 months ago

Sex, stigma, and the morning after pill - our #MyMorningAfter panel spilt all

Brought to you by ellaOne. 

So our discussion at the Helix has been and gone. And, boy was it a good one.

The panel, lead by our very own Niamh Maher from Girls with Goals, and including It Galz' Lindsay Hamilton, plus Sarah Hanrahan (I Come Undone) and Molly Parsons (host of Molly's Minutes podcast), discussed all things related to the morning after having sex. In particular, unprotected sex.

How many people feel secure enough to buy the morning after pill if they've had unprotected sex? Of that number, how many feel ashamed of taking the morning after pill? Why do we feel ashamed? Where does the stigma come from? And what can we do to get rid of the stigma surrounding the morning after pill?

That's just an example of the many topics discussed by the girls in the Helix, DCU, on March 7.

According to a survey by morning after pill brand ellaOne, a whopping 76 percent of 18-24 year olds believe there is still a stigma associated with taking the morning after pill. It was up to our panel to tackle that stigma and break down some of the myths surrounding it.

Molly Parsons talked about the problem starting all the way back in school with sex education.

"I think sex ed. is based on male pleasure - it's all about 'penetration'. The pill wasn't even talked about, never mind the morning after pill."

Even as you get older, the stigma is perpetuated by the secrecy and gravity that surrounds taking the morning after pill. It can be quite daunting when, after asking for the morning after pill, you have to go into a separate room for a consultation with the pharmacist. Lindsay Hamilton made a good comparison here:

"I think it's the questioning process that you have to go through to get it. It's quite invasive. If I'm getting Panadol they don't take me into a little room..."

Perhaps it's the secrecy around the morning after pill that led to one myth about the morning after pill that crops up again and again - that you can only take the morning after pill a maximum of three times. That's not the case. The morning after pill is a legal way to prevent pregnancy if you have unprotected sex or ANY time contraception fails  - not just the first three times.

The Her and ellaOne panel mulled over these issues and had a great chat about the topic with the DCU students and the entire audience. Not to mention everyone had a little nibble on some of the lovely snacks we had there on the day.

It was an all-round fab event, with some wonderful guest speakers, and a fantastic audience. While 76 percent of people feel there is a stigma surrounding the morning after pill, on the day of our event we had a room full of people who were ready to crush that stigma and talk about the important things.

After all, as Sarah Hanrahan accurately summed up, "at the end of the day, most people are having sex... the stigma comes from people not talking about it."

So let's keep talking about it.

Brought to you by ellaOne.

ellaOne is an emergency contraceptive pill that is available from pharmacies without a prescription. No other morning after pill is more effective at preventing pregnancy after unprotected sex.

ellaOne consists of one film-coated tablet which should be taken as soon as possible, but no later than 5 days (120 hours) after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure. Each film-coated tablet of ellaOne contains 30 mg ulipristal acetate. Always read the label.