I’m in a long-distance relationship, where the partner lives in a different city and hence we meet less often. So, whenever we meet, we make the best of the time available, including sex. The frequency of copulation would heighten to make for the lost time spent, as both of us are monogamous. Sex has an orgasm for the couple and can have an aftermath for the female, if not managed well. I do not want to conceive and thus we steered clear of an unprotected sex. The partner kept a stock of condoms, and if at all it exhausted, I had a backup plan, I-pill.

I am a long-time user of I-pill, first as a girl and then a woman. An unwanted pregnancy has a delirious impact on biological and psychological state of a female. The prospect of getting an abortion (medicinal or surgical) was nerve-wracking and I was so glad to discover I-pill and made it my constant companion, only to regret my decision later.

It happened a month back, as usual we ran out of condom, not once but twice in a month. I cautioned the partner to abstain, but he said, he will not ejaculate. Somewhere I laid down my defense, as I knew I can always pop in a pill. Usually such occasions arise once in three months, but that month the unprotected intercourse happened thrice a month and so I popped in the pill, thrice in my cycle. I did not anticipate any harm, it was an OTC medicine, and the size was Lilliputian, plus it was manufactured by a reputed brand. Nothing to worry about, I thought.

Time travelled, and my date approached, yet periods did not begin. Ma started panicking, thinking is it because of a pregnancy. I was unconcerned, I reasoned ‘Sometimes they get delayed Ma’ but Ma argued ‘It was never in your case, in fact periods came early’. I brushed off her concern as old age jitters and carried on my work. A week and half passed, and I began to have a suspicion which later converted to a full-fledged fear.

I took a prega news test, which came negative. I was relieved, but periods are nowhere in sight! There is a mild chance that results are inaccurate and am I in that zone? I wondered. I decided to get a urine pregnancy lab test which is more reliable than a home pregnancy detection kit. It should be the first urine of the morning. The night before, I drank couple of glasses of water and was jolted out of my sleep at 5 AM in the morning because of the acute pressure built in my bladder. I could not get a sleep post then.

The three hours (Lab opened at 8 AM on Sundays) were spent in excruciating urge to relieve, clenching my labia with both my hands. The test got done anyhow and the reports were to arrive in 12 hours. I remember looking at clock almost 100 times in the ten hours waiting anxiously as if my board exam results were to arrive. The panic was inexplicable, and I still shudder to think, what if things have gone wrong?

The results were negative which led to a visit to a gynecologist, who said the results are 99% accurate? What? She then recommended to repeat the urine pregnancy test post 15 days as it might happen that HCG levels were not that high for the earlier test to detect pregnancy and suggested few tests done for PCOS, Thyroid. The entire ordeal costed me 15% of my salary, panic, commutes, helplessness, and an emotional outburst on the partner. Finally, I was put on a 10-day pill to get back my periods, periods which never troubled me ever before.

It was during diagnosis, she cautioned me to not take I-pill for regular use and that it can cause an ectopic pregnancy. Really! I stared at her in disbelief.

I then tried to introspect about the reasons, that made me took an I-pill, a shortage of condom, an insistent and lax partner who wanted to do it despite the non-availability of condom, misinformation on pill safety. I wondered, is it a ‘me only’ problem or are there more getting ravaged and savaged? I had no answers but decided to seek them out. Thus, commenced a series of visits to gynecologists who gave me the shock of a lifetime that is and will impact generations of girls.

Dr Meenakshi Fortis La Femme

“It is not that effective a contraceptive. Its failure rate is much higher than regular birth control pills that are recommended by doctors. The failure of I-pill means women can get pregnant. It has a very high dose of hormones, so there can be a lot of nausea, vomiting, and gastric irritations if you take it often. So, if you throw out then also there is a much higher chance of getting pregnant.

We are seeing more cases of ectopic pregnancies because of I-pill. We need to understand that fertilization takes place in the tube and after that pregnancy moves and falls into the uterus, couple of days later when it gets implanted. So when an I-pill is taken at the time of fertilization, it is supposed to stop the process but unfortunately sometimes if the fertilization has occurred and the success of I-pill cannot be effective it will stop the movement of the pregnancy from the tube to the uterus and a tubal pregnancy or the ectopic pregnancy which is life threatening situation where girls actually need to get operated through laparoscopy or open surgery can happen.”

Dr Shelly, Senior Consultant – Obstetrics and Gynecology, Rainbow hospital shares –

“I had a young, unmarried girl patient who came with a severe abdominal pain and bleeding alongside. She thought it is related to her periods as she was bleeding and she did not disclose that she has taken an I-pill. Going into the history I found that it is very irregular kind of bleeding that is happening, so I just asked her if she has taken it. Then with great difficulty she came out that she had an I-pill and at least 2-3 times in a cycle. Then when an USG was done, it showed an ectopic pregnancy and it was a problem as she was unmarried and did not want her parents to know about. Then we had to do a laparoscopy and sort out the ectopic pregnancy which can also become life threatening. Sometimes there can be internal bleeding and so it has to be dealt immediately like a surgical emergency. Most people don’t know what an ectopic pregnancy is and that’s the way the pill has been marketed. Sometimes you may have to remove Fallopian tube if it is irreparably damaged.”

The repercussions that were borne by these women bodies, would we hold these women culpable for this and if not, who should we? The primary concern raised by the women and doctors were ‘there is poor contraceptive awareness’.

Sexuality Educator, Niyatii Shah talks about the importance of CSE (Comprehensive Sexual Education) and how it can help youngsters safeguard their sexual health.

“I have been a part of counselling websites like AdviceAdda, Yourdost, and trust me, 90% of the questions came on I-pill from men. The young ones are popping I-pill as if it is the only way and best way because it is quick, and the advertisement says it’s safe. They believe that this is an easy way than using a condom, which most men or boys don’t like to. They have their own myths and rumors about it. Condom will reduce the pleasure, reduce the feel. Females don’t even know about regular oral contraceptive pill and even if they know, who is going to pop in a pill every day? It’s a headache for them rather than understanding it’s a safety measure.”