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No pill able to ‘pause’ a pregnancy

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“Apparently there is what they call PAUSE PREGNANCY PILL,” reads a message posted on Facebook in South Africa on 13 September 2020.

“Let’s say your pregnancy test came back positive today. Means you are pregnant right. You can take that pill and pauses pregnancy for whatever years. Let’s say 3 years.”

The post says you can then take another pill to restart the pregnancy. “Then after 3 years you take a red pill. And your baby starts developing fully until 9 months.”

The post has been viewed more than 424,900 times in less than a week.

Is there a pill that can pause a pregnancy for an indefinite period, and a second pill that will allow the pregnancy to continue normally? We checked.

A Google search reveals that an advert for a “Plan C pregnancy pause pill” was uploaded onto YouTube on 13 August 2013.

The advert shows a blue and a red tablet. The blue tablet is said to pause the pregnancy by freezing the embryo in a process called embryo cryopreservation.

The video claims that the pregnancy will remain frozen indefinitely until the pregnant person takes the red pill, which will continue the pregnancy. It claims that the pregnancy can be frozen at any point, including during labour.

But the video’s use of slang and swear words combined with its humorous imagery and outlandish claims (the pill will “absorb” sexually transmitted diseases) suggest that it is intended as satire – or at least an attempt at humour.

When satire is shared as real information, it becomes misinformation.

We could find no evidence that this product exists.

Pills available to prevent or end pregnancies, not pause them

Plan C is a real online campaign to create awareness of safe abortion pills.

Currently, at least three types of pill can be used to prevent or stop a pregnancy. The first is the birth control pill, which stops ovulation and thins the lining of the uterus to prevent conception.

The second is the Plan B or morning-after pill which is taken up to five days after having unprotected sex. This works by preventing ovulation.

The third is the abortion pill, a name given to two drugs – mifepristone and misoprostol – that safely terminate an early pregnancy. When taken properly, the drugs prevent the body from releasing progesterone, a key hormone that regulates the uterus, and causes the body to empty the uterus.

While embryo cryopreservation exists, it is used to freeze and store embryos outside of the body to be thawed and implanted at a later stage. We found no evidence to suggest that the process described in the video is currently possible.

The pregnancy pause pill described in a Facebook post comes from a satirical video published in 2013. There is no evidence that such a pill exists. – Naledi Mashishi


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