There’s always a second chance – Emergency Contraception

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What is Emergency Contraception?

Emergency contraception, as the name suggests is not the regular contraceptive, but is a birth control that is used only in emergency situations to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex. It is often called the "morning after" pill but can be taken right after sex or up to 5 days post that. Taking emergency contraception reduces the chances of a pregnancy by up to 95%.

 When (1) When do you need Emergency Contraception?

1. Unprotected sex when no contraceptive has been used
2. Condom breakage or slipping off
3. Tearing, breakage, dislodgement of cervical cap or diaphragm
4. Failure of withdrawal in time with ejaculation into the vagina
5. Sexual assault when not under contraceptive use
6. Missed or late oral contraceptive pills or injections

Options What are the recommended Emergency Contraception Pills?
1. Emergency contraceptive pills.
2. The Copper-T Intrauterine Device
  • Ulipristal acetate,
  • Levonorgestrel,
  • Combined oral contraceptives consisting of ethinyl estradiol plus levonorgestrel
  1.  Ulipristal acetate with common trade names Ellaone, Ella, Esmya is the most effective emergency contraceptive pill. A 30 mg tablet must be taken within 5 days after the unprotected intercourse. It is much more effective than levonorgestrel. But it's more expensive and less easily available over the counter. It is available by prescription in over 50 countries but may be available without one in other countries.
  2. If you’ve used the birth control pill, patch, or ring within the last 5 days, ulipristal might not work as well as other morning after pills. Levonorgestrel is a progestin-only emergency contraceptive. Two tablets of 0.75 mg need to be taken after the unprotected intercourse. The first tablet should be taken as soon as possible within 72 hours of intercourse. The sooner the tablet is taken the more efficient it's action will be. The second tablet should be taken 12 hours after the first one. Levonorgestrel tablets, 0.75 mg are easily available over the counter.
Trade names are I-pill, G-pill, no chance-72, Plan B One-Step, Take Action, Next Choice One-Dose, My Way.
Risks What are the side-effects?

Side effects of levonorgestrel include-
1. Menstrual irregularities,
2. Nausea,
3. Abdominal pain,
4. Fatigue, headache, dizziness
5. Breast tenderness.

The side effects of combined pills are nausea and vomiting. The dosage must be repeated if vomiting occurs within an hour after taking the pill. To reduce the risk of vomiting an anti-nausea drug like Meclizine (trade name Dramamine) can be taken one hour before taking the pill.

Combination pills, the ones that are used for regular contraception can be taken after sex to prevent pregnancy. These oral contraceptive pills contain two types of hormones, estrogen and progestin, and you can use many brands that are available, though not all may be suitable. The pill must contain at least 100 mcg of estrogen and 0.50 mg of progestin.

 Remember 6 things to remember before taking these pills:
  • Take the first dose within 120 hours, followed by a second dose 12 hours later. You can use these pills for emergency contraception even if you have been advised not to use it for regular contraception, as it is a one time dosage.
  • Don’t use two different kinds of morning-after pills at the same time. They may counteract each other and not work at all. And don’t take more than one dose of either type of morning-after pill. It will not give you extra protection from pregnancy. Besides it can make you feel sick.
  • Remember that timing is very important. Take whichever pill you can get as soon as possible. It will be better than not using anything at all or delaying the intake.
  • The morning-after pill is a birth control method. It doesn’t cause an abortion. It won’t work if you’re already pregnant. Also it will not harm an existing pregnancy.
  • Don't use the the morning-after pill as your regular method of birth control. This is because it is not as effective a contraceptive as other forms of birth control like the IUD or pill. Also it will prove to be more expensive in the long run. The side effects though harmless can be quite inconveniencing. It also will not prevent sexually transmitted diseases.
  • A copper-bearing IUD is the most effective form of emergency contraception available. It needs to be inserted by a doctor or a nurse within 5 days after unprotected sex. While more expensive than pills, an IUD can also prevent future pregnancies for up to 12 years after insertion.

This is just for informational purpose, before taking any pill, consult a doctor in person, if not, ask your queries from verified doctors of your choice, online, download LAIMA.

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