Trouble in Spain, morning after pill help.
April 23, 2006 11:37 AM   Subscribe

Finding a morning after pill in Spain?

Family friend is traveling in Spain, after last night she's in desperate need of a morning after pill but is traveling in a foreign place, worried, and has limited access to both internet and local help. Can anyone comment on the availability of the morning after pill, clinics, or telephone help in Spain? It should be noted, this has already happened, so reactive not proactive type birth control is needed.
posted by sled to Human Relations (17 answers total)

The morning after pill is nothing more than 3-4 birth control pills in one. Remember that what she doesn't want is RU-486. I'm under the impression that some types of birth control pills are more effective than others when used in this capacity. There are a few reliable websites that explain this -- I'll google around and report back.

Sorry for the half-answer, but I know your friend needs a quick response, so better half than nothing.
posted by waldo at 11:40 AM on April 23, 2006

There's some information here that might be useful.
posted by essexjan at 11:42 AM on April 23, 2006

Columbia University's excellent Go Ask Alice! reports:
Some regular, daily birth control pills, those containing ethinyl estradiol and levonorgestrel, are considered safe and effective for use as emergency contraception (EC). (However, if a woman has been taking her birth control pills regularly and as directed by her health care provider, taking them in the higher emergency contraceptive dose isn't necessary to prevent pregnancy.) The number of birth control pills to be used as emergency contraception depends on how much of each hormone the pills have, so the quantity varies by brand. Studies have shown that 100 micrograms (mcg) of ethinyl estradiol together with 0.5 milligrams of levonorgestrel taken in two doses 12 hours apart is approximately 75 percent successful at preventing pregnancy if taken within 5 days (120 hours) of unprotected intercourse. The sooner after unprotected intercourse the pills are taken, the more effective they are at preventing pregnancy.
posted by waldo at 11:43 AM on April 23, 2006

I think it is not available over the counter but has to be prescribed by a doctor - here's some information in English, with links:

... A Gynecologist is also the person who must prescribe you the Morning After Pill, should you need it. You can obtain it at either your local doctor’s surgery or Family Planning Clinic. If you happen to need it on Saturday or Sunday, you can go to the Emergencies (Urgencias) department that is generally located within the same building as the Doctor’s Surgery

... For a full list of Family Planning Clinics, visit and go to the section on Health and Care. Scroll down until you find the section on Family Planning. Click on the word Family planning at the top of the advanced search option and you will see a complete list of Family Planning Centres (private and public). Details, such as opening hours, can be found out by clicking on each centre individually. There is usually one doctor who can speak enough English for you to communicate, although this depends on the clinic.
posted by funambulist at 11:46 AM on April 23, 2006

Is she staying at a finer hotel? The concierge can undoubtedly help her find a clinic.

Be sure she knows that she has 72 hours for emergency contraception; the name "morning after pill" is a misnomer.

If she can't find a clinic to get a prescription (which is required in Spain), I would second the option of taking several regular birth control pills.

Emergency contraception is definitely advisable, but it might be comforting/helpful for her to figure out where is she in her cycle. If she's right around the time of ovulation her worry should be greater than if, say, she's right about to start her period.
posted by saffron at 11:55 AM on April 23, 2006

oops, essexjan beat me to it.

Just one thing on the suggestions to make her own morning after pill by combining bc pills - I would think it's a bit risky playing with dosages like that especially due to the varying effectiveness, but in any case, I really don't think there's any need for that, since she is in a country where the morning after pill is available and with many places where she can get one. The question is where exactly can she get one.
posted by funambulist at 11:56 AM on April 23, 2006

Thanks for all the help thus far, this is always an amazing place. The big problem is she's not on any birth control, otherwise she'd be a lot more relaxed this happened. We appreciate all the help thus far!
posted by sled at 12:01 PM on April 23, 2006

I'm pretty sure this is a site about "anticoncepcion" in Spain. If you click on this link there is a list of clinics broken down by region. Spanish speakers - on the right track?
posted by barnone at 12:02 PM on April 23, 2006

Spain: Emergency Contraception doses
posted by barnone at 12:08 PM on April 23, 2006

Where is she? These are possibly "clinicas aborto" but I think they have emergency contraception too and are organized by region. Or just go to a regular medical clinic; I'm pretty sure it's legal in Spain. Ask for "Anticoncepción de Emergencia".
posted by barnone at 12:11 PM on April 23, 2006

barnone is definitely on the right track, and that's a much handier link for finding family planning clinics (=Centros de Planificación Familiar).
posted by funambulist at 12:14 PM on April 23, 2006

In the meanwhile, she can also insert a vitamin C capsule, which changes vaginal pH significantly enough that it'll do a lot to kill stray sperm that hasn't made it to the cervix yet.
posted by soviet sleepover at 12:25 PM on April 23, 2006

posted by Neiltupper at 12:59 PM on April 23, 2006

Again, thank you all! I would appreciate if anyone has experience with this in country, but until then your links are awfully helpful barnone. Our Google-Fu pretty much ceased when we crossed out of english..
posted by sled at 1:09 PM on April 23, 2006

In the same site that barnone pointed out, there's also a list of products available (machine-translated).
But if you go to a few pharmacies, you're sure to find someone who speaks English, all the pharmacists I know in Spain can at least read it.
posted by Sharcho at 3:05 PM on April 23, 2006

This might help.

Also, you can advise her to go to the nearest farmacia. The place where she is staying can probably give her the name of one that is open 24 hours, and she can go as soon as possible. A pharmacist should be able to direct her to a clinic where she can have the pill prescribed for her.

Alternatively, when I was there, I was able to get contraceptive pills without a prescription (whether this is kosher, I can't say, but I had an empty pack of the American type with me) and perhaps she could extrapolate from that.
posted by anjamu at 7:37 PM on April 23, 2006

The best site I've found - bar none - for emergency contraception is Princeton University's, at I've used it in the past when I was in an awful situation, made worse by the fact that we were in Egypt and didn't speak Arabic exceptionally well.

On a second note, and something that's more worthwhile I think for everyone else reading than for the poster, is to plan on bringing morning-after pills with you when you travel. Especially if you live in a country where they're easy to get at a pharmacy, there's really no excuse for bringing them along the same way you'd keep condoms with you.
posted by awenner at 9:43 PM on April 23, 2006

« Older Infrared remote extender thingy, who are you!?!?!   |   Hotels in Prague, Bratislava, Budapest, or... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.