Sales of emergency contraceptive pills have shot up nearly 40 per cent in the past six months in this city, says the Chemists and Drug Association (CDA). A majority of buyers are women and doctors are alarmed by the trend.
"Earlier, medicine shops in Lucknow used to sell seven-eight tablets a day. This has now shot up to even 25 tablets on some days. In the past six months, the demand has gone up up nearly 40 per cent," said CDA president Giriraj Rastogi.
The main reason, Rastogi told IANS, is the increased frequency of advertisements promoting such products.
"Be it print or electronic media, the frequency has increased in the past few months. You switch on the television set and you can see such ads within 10 minutes."
According to the CDA, a majority of the buyers are women in the 16-35 age group.
But health officials warn against frequent usage without medical guidance, saying contraceptive pills can prove harmful.
"If a woman has not taken any regular contraceptive, then the emergency pill can be used. However, if taken regularly, it could result in ailments like irregularity in menstrual cycle," said Meenu Sagar, chief medical superintendent of the government-run Virangana Avantibai Women's Hospital.
"These pills generate extra hormones in the body, which can later create problems if the user wants to conceive," Sagar contended, adding that it could even lead to infertility.
"It is safe to consume these pills once a month, but taking four-five times could be dangerous," she added.
Doctors at the Chhatrapati Sahuji Maharaj Medical University say regular use of these pills was an irresponsible approach to avoid pregnancy.
"Any invention could only be profitable for humans if it is used responsibly," said Neha Tiwari, a doctor at the medical school.
"Sexually active couples and teenagers are gradually making the emergency pills a part of their life which is wrong. This is a very irresponsible way to avoid pregnancy and steps should be taken to spread awareness among the masses," Tiwari told IANS.
Others said rampant over-the-counter sale of the pills had to be checked.
"Earlier, teenagers and unmarried couples had some fear about sex. But over-the-counter sales of such pills will surely increase the tendency to have sex before marriage. This should be sold only after a proper prescription by a doctor," said Anil Nishchal, a psychiatrist at the same university.