Everything You Need To Know About The Morning After Pill

You had sex and the condom broke. Yikes! Thank goodness for emergency contraception to prevent a pregnancy. But before you rush to your nearest pharmacy, here are 13 things you need to know about the morning after pill.

  1. It doesn’t always need to be taken asap. The sooner you consume emergency contraception after unprotected sex, the better your chances of not falling pregnant. But what happens if you’re so busy that you forget about it? Don’t panic. Some emergency contraception might still be effective up to four or five days after you had unprotected sex, like Ella. However, the catch is that it requires a prescription for your doctor.
  2. There are side-effectsCommon ones include headaches and nausea. Less common ones include dizziness, vomiting, and cramps. Of course, you might not even feel a thing. Still, it’s better to be aware of possible side effects. If you experience vomiting, call your doctor as you might’ve thrown up the contraception before it was digested, putting you at risk of pregnancy.
  3. It’s not always a pill. You might think of emergency contraception as a pill, but it comes in other forms. Inserting a copper IUD is the most effective emergency contraception. However, it costs more and you need to see a doctor to insert it for you, which makes it less appealing in emergency situations.
  4. Your weight might make it less effective. Did you know that some emergency contraception isn’t as effective if you weigh over 70kg? An example is Levonelle. If you’re worried about your weight, reach for a product like ellaOne, which is effective even if you weigh more than 70kg.
  5. No emergency contraception is 100 percent effective. You might think that emergency contraception will prevent a pregnancy, guaranteed, but this isn’t always the case. Nothing’s 100 percent effective, after all. A 2010 study found that of 1,696 women who took emergency contraception within three days of having sex, 37 fell pregnant. If you have pregnancy symptoms after taking your emergency contraception, such as tender and swollen breasts, extreme tiredness, nausea, or food aversions, you should take a pregnancy test.
  6. It’s not an abortion. A big myth about emergency contraception is that it’s an abortion, but this is total BS. You’re preventing an egg from being released so that any sperm in the fallopian tube won’t be able to reach and fertilize it. That’s it.
  7. It doesn’t risk your future fertility. You might worry that emergency contraception can make you less likely to fall pregnant when you want to in the future, but this is another myth. There’s no evidence that this could happen. However, if you don’t want to fall pregnant again immediately after taking emergency contraception, make sure to wrap it up!
  8. It shouldn’t be your plan a. Although it’s pretty successful at preventing pregnancy, you shouldn’t rely on emergency contraception as your first defense against pregnancy. It has higher levels of hormones in it to prevent pregnancy (hence why it’s an “emergency” contraception), so if it’s used regularly it can lead to more intense side-effects. It’s also usually more expensive than regular contraception.
  9. Your period might act up after taking it. Since it’s packed with higher levels of hormones, emergency contraception might cause your next period might do weird things, such as have heavier flow, come earlier or later than expected, or even give you more uncomfortable menstrual symptoms. This isn’t a cause for concern, unless your period’s very delayed and you think you might be pregnant.
  10. If you think you might be pregnant, don’t use it. It’s not safe to use emergency contraception is if you think you might already be pregnant. It won’t work in such a case and using IUDs during this time could make you more susceptible to infection during pregnancy.
  11. It’s safe, even if you can’t go on regular contraception. If you avoid regular contraception for a health reason, such as that you suffer from horrible migraines, you might think that emergency contraception is off limits, but it’s not. The Emergency Contraception Website, run by Princeton University and the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, states that using estrogen and progestin in emergency situations doesn’t have the same risks as taking contraception daily. If your doctor says you need to stay away from estrogen, there’s always the option of progestin-only emergency contraception, such as Plan B or the IUD.
  12. You can buy emergency contraception in advance. You don’t have to wait for when you really need to take emergency contraception before buying it online or at the pharmacy. You can get it in advance by consulting with your doctor, pharmacy, or using online pharmacies, such as the ellaOne website. Although you shouldn’t be relying on emergency contraception, it helps to know you have it in your possession if accidents happen.
  13. Don’t forget about STIWhile you’re rushing out to get your hands on emergency contraception after unprotected sex happened, you might completely forget about the possibility that you’ve contracted an STI. This is a real risk, especially if you’re not in an exclusive, committed relationship with someone. Get yourself and your partner tested ASAP!

Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.