A broken condom; a missed pill; a brief, uncharacteristic lapse in judgement. Sometimes, you may do everything you can to prevent pregnancy, but something just goes wrong. Thankfully, women can find security and peace of mind with the use of emergency contraception.
There’s a lot of information out there about the morning after pill and, unfortunately, that means there’s also plenty of misinformation too. When you’re considering emergency contraception, you need the facts, not rumors and unverified assumptions. That’s why our medical experts are here to tell you what you need to know!
How It Works
The morning after pill is a form of emergency or backup contraception used to prevent pregnancy. There are several different types of pills available, and even an emergency copper IUD, that are considered effective pregnancy preventatives.
A morning after pill must be taken within three to five days (depending on which one you use) of unprotected sex or birth control failure to be effective. The sooner you take it, the better it works. For the best results, try to take emergency contraception within 12-24 hours.
The morning after pill works by delaying ovulation.
Most morning after pills contain a high dose of a hormone called levonorgestrel, which stops the release of an egg or prevents fertilization or implantation of an egg that has been released. There are also pills available that use a drug called ulipristal acetate to block your body’s hormones to prevent pregnancy, which do require a prescription.
Possible Side Effects
Some women experience no side effects after using emergency contraception. Those who do typically only have them for a few days. The most common side effects of the morning after pill include:
- Nausea or vomiting (if you vomit within two hours of taking the pill, consult your healthcare provider about whether you may need another dose)
- Lower abdominal cramps
- Breast tenderness
You also may experience a delay in your next period after using emergency contraception. Spotting beforehand is common, and your period itself may be up to one week late. If you don’t get your period within three to four weeks, you should take a pregnancy test.
As we mentioned earlier, a lot of false information has been spread about emergency contraception. It’s important for women to know the truth behind these myths so they’re not afraid to seek out the morning after pill when they need it and end up dealing with an unwanted pregnancy.
MYTH: The morning after pill is the same as an abortion pill.
The morning after pill is NOT the same as a medical abortion. It is not physically possible for emergency contraception to terminate a pregnancy, only to prevent it. The hormone used in the morning after pill is the same one used in many forms of regular birth control. When you take an emergency contraceptive, you’re essentially just taking a higher dose of birth control.
MYTH: You need a prescription for the morning after pill.
Most morning after pills are available over the counter, no prescription necessary. There are certain emergency contraceptives that require a prescription, but a majority are readily accessible at your local drug store or contraception clinic (many of which offer them for free).
There is also no longer an age requirement and you do not have to show ID to get the morning after pill.
If you find yourself in a situation where you might be facing an unplanned pregnancy, don’t be afraid to ask for help. At South Avenue Women’s Services, we’re committed to providing confidential and compassionate care for all women. We offer the morning after pill, along with abortion services, birth control access, and other women’s wellness services.
Contact our clinic today to get the help you need—our team is here for you!