Emergency Contraception

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What is emergency contraception?

Emergency contraception, commonly called the morning-after pill or day after pill, is a high dosage of synthetic hormones. Some women take it in an attempt to lower the chance of pregnancy within a few days of unprotected sex, after a condom breaks or tears, or after sexual assault. 

The morning-after pill is not a form of regular birth control, and the manufacturers advise that it is not intended to be taken on a regular basis. It does not offer lasting protection for any subsequent sexual encounters. 

Though it is intended to reduce the possibility of pregnancy, it does not eliminate your chances of getting pregnant. Let’s look more closely at how it works.

How does the morning-after pill work?

High doses of synthetic hormones (estrogen and/or progestin) can potentially impact fertility in one of several ways. The way emergency contraception works varies based on where you are in your cycle when it is taken. Here are the ways the morning after pill may work:

  • Delaying or preventing ovulation 
  • Changing the consistency of cervical mucus to prevent fertilization
  • Preventing implantation of a fertilized egg by changing the lining of the uterus
  • Causing a fertilized egg to detach from the uterus, acting as an abortifacient - a medication or substance which causes abortion. 

It's important to know that during the fertile period (before and during ovulation), emergency contraception can end a pregnancy that has already begun. At the time of fertilization, a human life begins—a unique person with unique DNA is formed. There is no way to predict or control which way the morning-after pill might work in your circumstances. For this reason, many women feel uncomfortable taking emergency contraception. 

Not sure what ovulation, implantation, or fertilization mean? Call or chat with us now and we can help!

 

Should I take the morning-after pill?

You might feel really stressed about the chance of getting pregnant, especially if you feel like you aren’t ready to be a mom. Before you buy or take emergency contraception, it is important to talk with your doctor. We’re also here to help you find answers, so please contact us if you’d like to talk about your individual situation.   

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you think about whether you want to take emergency contraception: 

  • Taking the morning-after pill does not eliminate the chance that you could be pregnant. Studies suggest that the morning-after pill might reduce the likelihood of pregnancy by 75-89%, depending on which drug, or which study, is considered. 
  • The morning-after pill is a drug with possible side effects. Common side effects may be: headache, nausea/vomiting, dizziness, fatigue, breast tenderness, changes in menstrual bleeding, and abdominal pain.
  • High doses of synthetic hormones may carry health risks. If you have any existing health conditions, be sure to discuss these with your doctor BEFORE you buy or take emergency contraception
  • If you are allergic to—or might be allergic to—any components of the drug, you should consult with your doctor BEFORE you buy or take emergency contraception.
  • If you weigh more than 155 lbs, certain types of emergency contraception may not lower your chances of getting pregnant. 

Your choices are entirely in your control, and you can equip yourself with all of the info you need before you decide. We’re glad you started here. Call or chat with us now if you’d like to talk more!

 

I took the day after pill, what do I do now?

If you have had side effects after taking emergency contraception, especially those lasting more than a week, it is recommended that you follow up with your doctor. If you have noticed any unexpected side effects, such as heavy bleeding, seek medical attention right away. 

Since the morning-after pill does not always take away the risk for pregnancy, it is also a good idea to take a pregnancy test if you notice symptoms of pregnancy. Not sure whether you should take a test? Use our free online pregnancy quiz today!

References:

Morning After Pill. Mayo Clinic Website: https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/morning-after-pill/about/pac-20394730. Published December 31, 2019. Published June 5, 2020.

Ella. Drugs Website: https://www.drugs.com/pro/ella.html Published May 1, 2020. Retrieved June 5, 2020

Plan B Oral. Drugs Website: https://www.drugs.com/cons/plan-b.html. Published November 27, 2019. Retrieved June 8, 2020.

Plan B One Step Fact Sheet. Plan B Website: https://www.planbonestep.com/assets/downloads/plan-b-one-step-fact-sheet.pdf. Published January 2019. Retrieved June 8, 2020.

Ella Side Effects. Drugs Website: https://www.drugs.com/sfx/ella-side-effects.html. Published August 18, 2019. Retrieved June 8, 2020.

ELLA- ulipristal acetate tablet. U.S. Library of Medicine Website: https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=052bfe45-c485-49e5-8fc4-51990b2efba4. Published January 27, 2020. Retrieved June 5, 2020.

Note: Option Line and our network of participating pregnancy centers offers peer counseling and accurate information about all pregnancy options; however, these centers do not offer or refer for abortion services. The information presented on this website and given through contacting Option Line is intended for general education purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional and/or medical advice.