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Morning After Pill – An Overview of Emergency Contraception

Morning After Pill – An Overview of Emergency Contraception

What is the Morning After Pill?

The “Morning After Pill” is a common name for the most popular type of emergency contraceptive. Emergency contraception or emergency birth control (EC) is used to reduce the chance of a woman getting pregnant after she has had sex without using birth control, during the fertile days while using natural family planning, or if the birth control method failed. While some EC methods may be taken as much as 3-5 days after unprotected sex, EC is most effective when taken as soon as possible (i.e. within a few hours).

Emergency Contraceptive Pills

Emergency Contraceptive Pills

There are two types of emergency contraception: emergency contraceptive pills (ECP), also known as the “Morning After Pill,” and the Copper-T intrauterine device (IUD). The IUD is a small, T-shaped device placed into the uterus by a doctor within five days after having unprotected sex. Emergency contraception pills (ECP) may prevent or delay ovulation by blocking fertilization while the IUD works mostly by making the sperm less able to fertilize the egg. Emergency contraceptives will not protect against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

The latest scientific research shows that FDA approved ECPs containing levonorgestrel or ulipristal acetate do not inhibit the implantation of a fertilized egg. Emergency contraception pills (ECPs) stop pregnancy by keeping the egg from leaving the ovary or keeping the sperm from joining the egg. The Morning After Pill will not stop or harm an embryo that has already implanted. If you are already pregnant, ECPs will not work. It is not the abortion pill. Emergency contraceptive pills do not protect against HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases.

ECP are available with or without a prescription. The Ella brand pill requires a visit to a doctor to obtain a prescription. Plan B One Step and other generic brands are ECPs that can be purchased at the pharmacy without a prescription.

While some emergency contraception pills can be used more than once during the month, they should not be used as a regular birth control method to prevent pregnancy. ECPs do not provide lasting protection. ECPs work before ovulation occurs so if you have unprotected sex after ovulation, taking ECPs may not stop a pregnancy. If you have unprotected sex in the days or weeks after the use of ECPs, there is a risk of becoming pregnant.

Important: If you become pregnant or experience severe abdominal pain and/or bleeding 3-5 weeks after taking the emergency contraceptive pill, you may have an ectopic pregnancy (the egg has implanted outside the uterus). Since ectopic pregnancies may be life threatening, you should seek immediate medical attention.

How do I know if I should be concerned?

You should be concerned about an unintended pregnancy if you had sex and your birth control failed (i.e. condom broke, diaphragm not inserted correctly, during the fertile days while using natural family planning, etc.), if you did not use contraception, or if you missed/forgot to take your birth control pill(s). If you had sex and think that you may be at risk of pregnancy, chat with our nurse online or schedule an appointment at one of our three Bay Area Support Circle clinics in Oakland, Redwood City, and San Francisco. Support Circle offers free pregnancy tests and same day appointments.

Support Circle provides information about but is not a provider of the morning after pill.

 

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Plan B Emergency Contraceptive

Ella Emergency Contraceptive

Is the Morning After Pill and the Abortion Pill The Same?

 

References:

  1. http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/emergency-contraception.html
  2. http://ec.princeton.edu/info/ecp.html
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Morning After Pill - An Overview of Emergency Contraception
Article Name
Morning After Pill - An Overview of Emergency Contraception
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This article discusses how emergency contraception or emergency birth control (EC) is used to reduce the chance of a woman getting pregnant after she has had sex without using birth control, during the fertile days while using natural family planning, or if the birth control method failed.
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Support Circle Pregnancy Clinics
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