Table Of Contents
- What is the Morning After Pill?
- How Does it Prevent Pregnancy?
- What are the Benefits?
- What are the Disadvantages?
- How Effective is it?
- Is it Safe?
- How do I Use the Morning After Pill?
- Tips for Using the Pill
What is the Morning After Pill (Plan B Pill)?
The morning-after pill (also known by the brand name Plan B), is emergency contraception that a woman takes to prevent pregnancy. It’s a form of birth control which is used after unprotected sex takes place.
The traditional morning-after pill is effective if taken up to 5 days after having unprotected sex. However, it is usually the most effective the sooner it’s taken.
You may consider resorting to an emergency contraception because you neglected to use a condom during sex, the condom broke during sex, you neglected to maintain your regular birth control method, or you were forced to have unprotected sex.
The two most popular morning after pill brands are:
- Plan B – Available over the counter, without a prescription
- Ella – Only available with a prescription
There is one other kind of emergency contraception and it’s not in pill form. It’s the Paragard IUD, which is also effective if taken up to 5 days after having unprotected sex. It is considered to be one of the most effective forms of emergency contraception.
The morning-after pill is not the same as an abortion pill and will not end an existing pregnancy. It can only reduce the risk that a woman will become pregnant.
How does it Prevent Pregnancy?
Pregnancy does not happen during sex. Sperm can live inside your body for up to 6 days, waiting for an egg.
The morning after pills work in the time between the act of having sex and becoming pregnant. This can take anywhere up to 6 days. The pill temporarily stops the ovary from releasing an egg, thereby not allowing sperm the access it needs for fertilization. Without fertilization, a woman is unable to become pregnant.
What are the Benefits?
The benefits include:
- Easy to use
- Convenient, only one time use required
- Some types do not require a prescription
- Can be used up to 5 days after having sex
- Effective backup method for emergencies (condom breaking for example)
What are the Disadvantages?
It can also be quite expensive (as much as $50 for one set of pills) depending on your location and medical coverage. Therefore, it is not recommended to be a person’s sole form of birth control. It should only be used in emergency situations.
Side effects of the morning after pill can include nausea, vomiting and cramping. This is because it may contain a high does of estrogen and progesterone.
In addition, morning after pills wont work if your body has already started ovulating.
Lastly, Plan B pills may not be as effective for those with a Body Mass Index above 25. For those women, Ella or the Paragard IUD is recommended.
Morning after pills are not intended for long-term use. Read about recommended birth control methods available for daily use and only use morning after pills in emergency situations.
How Effective is it?
The morning after pills effectiveness depends on which method is used.
Levonogestrel based pills, like Plan-B, are up to 89% effective when taken less than 3 days after unprotected sex. It will continue to work up to 5 days after protected sex, but it’s less effective as time passes. Therefore, the sooner this pill is taken, the more effective it is.
Ella is 85% effective for up to 5 days after sex and stays just as effective throughout that time period. Therefore it is more effective after 3 days than levonogestrel based pills.
Finally, the Paragard IUD is 99% effective for up to 5 days after unprotected sex . It can also function as a normal birth control method after it is applied, lasting up until 12 years. However it is much more invasive compared to taking the morning after pill.
Is it Safe?
This emergency contraception is completely safe and can be used multiple times. However, it can cause some mild side effects including nausea, cramping, vomiting and unexpected bleeding between periods.
Morning-after pills are not intended for long-term use. Read about recommended birth control methods available for daily use and only use morning after pills in emergency situations.
How do I Use the Morning After Pill?
Using the morning after pill is not as tricky as other methods of birth control.
With most morning after pills, like Plan-B pills, all you have to do is take the pill at the time indicated on the packaging, within 5 days of having sex.
Most importantly, you should not mix two kinds of emergency contraception or take a higher dosage than suggested. Neither of these actions will increase your chances of preventing pregnancy. In fact, they may increase your chances of getting pregnant and also make you sick.
Tips for Using the Pill
Use the morning after-pill as soon as possible after having unprotected sex, especially if you are using over-the-counter pills like Plan-B.
For pills which require two doses, set an alarm so you do not forget to take the second pill.
In conclusion, do not rely on morning after pills to prevent pregnancy long term. There are more effective and less expensive ways to do that.
Check out long-term Birth Control Options to avoid needing emergency contraception in the future.