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The South African Anti Drug Team




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Women and Drugs:


If not that serious send me an confidential e-mail: info@thesouthafricanantidrugteam.org.za


Clear reliable information on how illegal drugs affect womenís health is hard to come by. Findings are often based on inadequate information about the women involved, or on animal studies. Drugs can affect appetite, weight and appearance, moods and ability to cope with everyday matters. But this section concentrates on how they affect your body cycle and your security.


After taking some drugs like E, you may experience heavier, irregular periods: some reports say that periods have stopped altogether. In fewer cases, women have experienced light spotting after taking a drug. This may be caused by the drug or by other factors like lack of food or sleep or because of increased exercise. Dancing a lot, staying up all night, and not resting enough could affect your weight and general health, which in turn could affect your period and mood.


As far as it is known, illegal drugs, like Ecstasy, do not interfere with the workings of the contraceptive pill, though other impurities in the drugs may decrease itís effectiveness. If your periods stop, that does not necessarily mean that you have stopped producing eggs and you could still get pregnant.


The effect of some drugs might make you feel less inclined to practice safe sex. Always have a condom handy and make sure it is used if needed. If you are worried that you have risked it in the last 5 days, you can get emergency contraception from the family planning clinic. You donít have to be over 16. The use of all drugs, including alcohol and tobacco, during pregnancy is considered highly dangerous. Please see Pregnancy below.


Some drugs, like Rohypnol, Ketamnine and GHB, have the capacity to knock you out cold for a few hours: you should remember the risk of date rape. As you probably know, there are a lot of guys out there who will take advantage of you, the second you let them. If you are going to take these drugs, be extra sure that you have trustworthy and caring friends to look out for you.


If someone does give you unpleasant vibes, ignore them. If that doesnít deter them, stick to your friends or move somewhere else. Even though it is a hassle to move because of someone elseís inconsideration, it will be for the best. A useful tip is to turn your back on someone when you feel too strong a vibe from them - this is a clear message. Donít be afraid of offending anyone - it is you who matters and itís your right to do so anyway. If all else fails, ask for help at a security area or organisers office.


Pregnancy: Drug use during pregnancy should be reduced to a minimum, if not stopped completely. The rapidly developing tissues of the embryo and foetus are particularly sensitive to the effects of ALL drugs. The placenta is not a barrier to the passage of most drugs, so it should be assumed that drugs taken during pregnancy will reach the foetus in at least small amounts.


The risks associated with non-medical drug use during pregnancy include:


1. Low birth weight, which may affect how able a baby is to stay healthy;

2. Developmental delay;

3. Increased incidence of miscarriage;

4. Higher incidence of congenital abnormalities, such as cleft palate, microcephalus and club foot;

5. Higher incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

6. Sudden stopping of tranquillisers, barbiturates, heroin or methadone can be very dangerous to yourself and your baby, so withdraw slowly. Speak to a doctor or drug counsellor for advice. Itís safe to stop using ecstasy, speed, LSD, solvents or cannabis immediately.


MDMA / Ecstasy and Pregnancy

Many womenísí menstrual cycles are affected by taking ecstasy. Periods may become quite irregular, but this does not mean that the women are infertile. Ecstasy does not stop ovulation and cannot be used as a contraceptive.


Health risks of taking MDMA during pregnancy include:


1.   Increased risk of miscarriage

2.   A higher risk of congenital abnormalities, such as a cleft palate

3.   Rupturing of the placenta

4.   Premature labour

5.   Foetal distress

6.   Low birth weight and growth-retarded babies, which may affect how able a baby is to stay healthy

7.   Excessive sleep

8.   Decreased interactive behaviour

9.   Poor feeding

10. Although the risk of miscarriage is high when taking ecstasy during pregnancy, there is also a high risk of the foetus developing to full term, but experiencing birth complications. In desperate cases, women have been known to take excessive amounts of drugs to induce a miscarriage. This is not only harmful to the woman, but also to the developing foetus, which may survive, and be badly affected. 


There have been reports of severe permanent damage to the women, such as burst fallopian tubes, which results in one not being able to have any more children. It is far safer to visit a clinic or hospital to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. Most major hospitals and clinics can now perform a legal and confidential service in this regard. Lifeline can help with advice and counselling: you can find their number is on this website.


NB:  Do NOT use any drugs before or during sex:

1.   Drugs can cause you not to have save sex.

2.   If you fall pregnant the child may have defects.