So the condom broke. I didn’t even notice. He was hard and I was wet and things were gliding and sliding the way they do before I have a really good orgasm. He was moaning my name and that always gets me excited. But then he stopped. I felt this weird tug on the inside, like something was catching on the lining of my walls. I moved. The tug went elsewhere. Then he said “Shiiiiit.” And my heart sank. I sat up and put my head in my hands. I monitor my fertility and I knew that today was not the right day to have a mishap with the condom. Today was play around and have you some twins day. I looked up at him. All he could say was “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” I said “Wow. This is not good.” I exhaled. Shook my head. Then tried to focus on the bright side. “Hey, at least you didn’t come inside me.” He said it again “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” And then I realized that was what the moaning was. I guess he wasn’t an “I’m coming, I’m coming, I’m coming” followed by bared teeth and a series of shudders like my ex was. He was just a moaner. And he had come. Inside me. I had heard about the morning after pill but I had never taken it. Where would I find it? It was one o’clock in the morning. No pharmacy would be open. How soon could you wait? Till eight when the pharmacies opened up? Was that too late? Would some little fishies have swam up and found an egg to shake hands with? Would I already be pregnant by morning?
I kept trying to swallow the giggles hearing about my friend’s adventure with the morning after pill. She never gives a one-word answer so she had chosen to break down the circumstances under which she had to take it to me. See above, they were hilarious. Luckily, the rest of her story is pretty benign. She waited till morning, went to the first pharmacy she saw on her street. They said they didn’t have it, directed her to another pharmacy two streets away. She went there and motioned frantically to the guy behind the counter, wondering if he would need to hear the actual name of the drug and since she didn’t know it if he would immediately understand what she meant when she said “the morning after pill” or if he would be like “the morning after what?” and she would have to fumble through an explanation about moaning and sexing in what a Gallup poll had said was the most religious country in the world. But it went much easier than she thought. She said “the morning after pill” the pharmacist nodded, went into the small room behind the counter, slid a pack across the glass to her, told her she’d need to take it immediately, definitely before 72 hours had passed, and that after she’d taken the white pill she’d have to wait twelve hours and then take the colored pill. It was kinda expensive but she wasn’t about to quibble. She took it, she didn’t get pregnant, she’s fine.
I was surprised to find out, talking to a few more friends, that the morning after pill is relatively easy to find in Ghana. Almost as easy as the regular oral contraceptive pill. That is, of course, in mid-income areas in the capital city. You don’t need a prescription to get it (though the law says you do) because in Ghana for a lot of things you can usually just walk into a private pharmacy without a prescription and ask for it and they’ll give it to you. They won’t ask too many questions because they figure if you know enough to ask for the drug by name then you’re probably fine taking it. It’s also not some crazy drug that will kill you without a doctor’s supervision. Every friend I talked to had had an easy enough experience finding it, taking it, and most importantly I guess, in every case I talked to it had worked. No pregnancies. No requests for me to be a godmother.
A few friends talked about how sick it made them feel but everyone thinks it was worth it and they’d do it again. As far as they know, everyone in urban areas in the capital city except teenagers or people who the pharmacists just feel like giving a hard time should be able to get their hands on the morning after pill, get the proper information on how to use it and get it multiple times if they want. Easy peasy. Of course for low-income urban areas, for rural women or even women in bigger cities like Kumasi, Cape Coast etc. it would be a whole different story. There are fewer pharmacies, they are less well-stocked, and they are less likely to have things that are considered “special” drugs. Have a headache, fine, you’ll find something. Need a drug for your gout, you’re plumb out of luck. In Ghana, having a robust sex life as a thirty-something year old woman is complicated, for a number of reasons (there aren’t too many age-appropriate single men, men aren’t monogamous, for most of them there isn’t a lot of focus on a woman’s pleasure, you get lots of societal pressure to get married, folks are pretty secretive about casual sex etc. etc.). So though the good news may be that emergency contraception isn’t too hard to find in Accra the bad news is that finding a real relationship to need it in might just be a tad bit harder.
F.N. is a thirty something free-lance writer from Ghana. Currently, she is trying out a new life in Washington, DC