Table Of Contents
- What is the Morning After Pill?
- How Does the it Prevent Pregnancy?
- What Are the Benefits?
- What Are the Disadvantages?
- How Effective is it?
- How Safe is it?
- How Do I Use the pill?
- Tips for Using the Pill
What is the Morning After Pill (Plan B being popular brand)?
The morning-after pill (also known as emergency contraception), is a form of birth control which is used directly after unintentional unprotected intercourse takes place.
There are different kinds of morning-after pills and technically, not all of them are pills. One form of emergency contraception is the Paragard IUD which is useful up to 5 days after unprotected sex and can remain an effective form of birth control for long afterwards. It is considered to be the most effective form of emergency contraception.
Another form of emergency contraception is the traditional morning-after pill (Plan B and Ella being popular brands). Ella is effective up to 5 days after unprotected sex occurs and is only available by prescription. Plan B and other levonorgestrel based pills can be bought over-the-counter and are effective up to 5 days after sex but are more effective the sooner they are taken.
You may consider resorting to emergency contraception if you neglected to use a condom during sex or if the condom broke, you neglected to maintain your regular birth control method, or if you were forced to have unprotected sex.
Note: that the morning-after pill is not the same as an abortion pill and cannot turn someone from pregnant to un-pregnant. It can only decrease the risk that a person will become pregnant.
How does it Prevent Pregnancy?
The morning after pills work in the time between the sex act and pregnancy, this can take anywhere up to 6 days. Their function is to temporarily stop the ovary from releasing an egg, thereby not allowing sperm the access it needs to enter the egg and cause pregnancy.
What Are the Benefits?
The benefits include:
- Easy to use
- Some types do not require prescription
- No effect on hormones
- Good to have as a back-up if there is a reason not to be confident in the primary birth control method
What Are the Disadvantages?
The morning after pill is not considered to be as effective as most primary forms of birth control (ie. IUD, birth control pills). It is also quite expensive (as much as $50 for one set of pills). Therefore, it is not recommended as a person’s sole form of birth control and should only be used as a back-up.
Depending on the type of emergency contraception used, some side effects may occur.
Levonogestrel pills may not be as effective for those with a Body Mass Index above 25. For those with a 25+ BMI, Ella or the Paragard IUD is recommended.
How Effective is it?
The effectiveness of emergency contraception depends on which method is used.
Levonogestrel based pills like Plan-B are, at best, 89% effective when taken less than 3 days after unprotected sex. After that, the efficacy drops off but the pill will still continue to reduce risk up to 5 days after unprotected sex. The sooner this pill is taken, the more effective it is.
Ella is 85% effective for up to 5 days after, regardless of when the pill is taken after unprotected sex.
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.
How Safe is it?
Emergency contraception is completely safe. However, it can cause some mild side effects including nausea and unexpected inter-period bleeding.
How to Use the Pill
Using the morning after pill is not as tricky as other methods of birth control. With Plan-B, all that is needed is to take the pills at the times indicated on the packaging.
Do not mix two kinds of emergency contraception and do not 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 unprotected sex, especially if you are using over-the-counter levonogestrel versions.
For pills which require two doses, set an alarm so you do not forget to take the second pill.
Do not rely on morning after pills to prevent pregnancy. There are more effective and less expensive ways to do that.