We asked ten Nigerian women about their first time buying emergency contraceptives. 

Here’s what they had to say: 

two, pink colored, contraceptive pills in an open hand

T, 22

The first time I tried to buy emergency contraceptive, the pharmacists refused to sell to me because they thought I was a minor. I was 19 at the time. They asked me who wants to use it. I said me. They looked at each other then at me, before saying they didn’t have. I just knew they were lying. I thought, “So these people would rather have pregnant minors running around than sell this shit to me?”

I ended up sending the guy to go and buy it. The two times I used emergency contraceptive after that, the men went to buy it.

Nneka, 23

The first time I had to buy emergency contraceptive, I waited by the side of the pharmacy while the guy went in to buy it. Later, he told me, “You are in the university. You shouldn’t be shy of buying something like this.”

After that, I unlearned the shame. I walk into any store to buy it now. Afterall, it is way better than being pregnant. 

Funmi, 22 

The first time I bought emergency contraceptive was easy because I was a nursing student and the pharmacy was beside the hospital I worked in. I went to buy it in my uniform. It’s the same thing I did when I wanted to buy a pregnancy test strip

But now, if I need to, I go in normal clothes because if anything happens, it’s those same people that judge you that will ask if you don’t know about emergency contraceptive. I discovered that there’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Jumoke, 25 

The first time I had to get emergency contraceptive was after being raped. I didn’t want to get pregnant. I went straight to a pharmacy after everything. The pharmacist was giving me a dirty look but I didn’t even mind. Before then my friends had shared their experiences buying emergency contraceptives so I knew what to expect.

I felt ashamed but I kept a straight face and consoled myself with the fact that the pharmacist won’t see me again. All my years of being sexually active, I have gotten professional responses twice when buying emergency contraceptives. The only thing that has changed is that I no longer feel uncomfortable. If you stare, I stare back. 

Ehi, 22

The first time I bought emergency contraceptive was for my roommate. She came to the room and I noticed something was off. When I asked, she told me she had unprotected sex and the guy did not withdraw. I told her to buy the pill and she asked me to go with her. 

When we got to the pharmacy, she refused to say anything. We stood for about 10 minutes before I went to the counter to ask for the pills. I didn’t bother looking at the pharmacist’s face or body language or even those beside me in the pharmacy. I took the pills and left the pharmacy with my roommate. 

Since that day, I became the errand girl for post pill, pregnancy strip test, condoms, etc. 

My roommate asked if I wasn’t ashamed. I told her it’s better to be ashamed now than to be ashamed for the next nine months. Funny thing I wasn’t even sexually active at the time. 

Tolu, 20 

I remember I had to sneak out of the house with my younger brother to get it. I was worried about Aba women gossip so I waited two houses away from the pharmacy while my brother went to get it. 

My brother was 14 at the time and he was conflicted about the whole thing. Later he told me that he knows I killed the baby. I tried explaining but gave up after a while.

Tosin, 22

I had unplanned sex with a friend so I rushed to the store and got the pill. I went to a store far from my house because all these pharmacists can talk abeg. They had their facial expressions but I am not a child so I kept a straight face and bought what I wanted to buy. 

Bibi, 18 

I bought the pills for the first time a few months ago at a pharmacy in school. Before going, I was nervous because even though I’m 18, I look like I’m 15 but I told myself that it’s better to buy pills than to have an abortion. 

It was easy when I got there. I was wearing a nose mask when I walked in and asked for a particular brand and a test kit too. After buying it, I wondered why I was scared. 

Susan, 25

I was 17 the first time I bought emergency contraceptive. I had unprotected sex with my then boyfriend and he did not pull out. I was scared I was going to get pregnant so I went to the pharmacy in my school and asked for the pill.

I was expecting some sort of judgemental reaction from the pharmacist but they were probably used to such requests so they were normal about it but I couldn’t even look up till I left. Now I am a lot more bold about buying these things.

Ese, 35

Although I’m married, the first time I wanted to buy emergency contraceptive, I was so shy I couldn’t mention the name at the pharmacy. I wrote it on a piece of paper and handed it over to the person attending to me. He understood and wrapped it well before giving it to me. 

By the second time, I had gained more confidence. I mentioned the name loudly while flaunting my wedding ring.

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