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Common Misconceptions About Unplanned Pregnancies

Common Misconceptions About Unplanned Pregnancies

We asked our patient advocate team to share some of the most common misconceptions about unplanned pregnancies they encounter when meeting with women in our three Bay Area pregnancy clinics.  We are sharing these so that you also can be educated about these common misconceptions about unplanned pregnancies.

Misconception 1:  There are no good options

A common statement women make is: “There aren’t any good options.” Women often feel that the only options are to parent completely on their own or to abort. It is very common to feel this way, especially right after discovering you are unexpectedly pregnant. Oftentimes, women say there aren’t any good options because they are thinking of their current situation as it is right now and can’t see the solution. But if they were to sit down with a patient advocate to weigh their options and identify the supportive people in their lives, it changes the equation. People that were not in the picture might come in and be helpful. People that could be helpful with work or schooling can be brought in and make the situation better. There are many community resources that women are often not aware of that they can greatly benefit from. Many times, our clients have commented that exploring options was good because there were many avenues they did not know existed.

Misconception 2:  It is irresponsible to have an unintended pregnancy

Half of all pregnancies in America are unplanned. With great diversity to the backgrounds and circumstances of each pregnancy, it is a false stereotype to categorically say it’s irresponsible to have an unintended pregnancy. But what is irresponsible is, now that you are pregnant, to make a rash decision without evaluating the short and long-term consequences of your options. The caring staff at Support Circle is dedicated to helping our clients be well-informed about their pregnancy decision. We encourage you to take time to evaluate your core values and the repercussions of your pregnancy decision, whichever decision you end up making.

Misconception 3:  The Morning After Pill can be taken at any time during the cycle

The “Morning After Pill” is a common name for emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs) designed to be taken within hours of unprotected sex — the sooner the better — because it works by preventing ovulation. The longer you wait, the greater the chance of ovulating. ECPs work to prevent ovulation before it occurs so if you have unprotected sex after ovulation (usually days 10–14 of your cycle), ECPs may not stop a pregnancy. Emergency contraception should not be used as a regular birth control method to prevent pregnancy. If you have unprotected sex in the days after ovulation, there is a risk of becoming pregnant. You can find out if you are pregnant by taking a free, lab-quality pregnancy test at one of our three Bay Area medical clinics. The pregnancy tests administered by Support Circle nurses are more than 99% accurate and are able to detect a pregnancy as early as 10 days after conception.

At Support Circle, we often encounter common misconceptions about unplanned pregnancies.  Our professional nurses and patient advocates are dedicated to providing time, space and support to women in unintended pregnancies. Our clients love our relational approach built on respect, trust and confidentiality. Thanks to the generous donations of our supporters, we are able to offer our services free of charge.

 

Links

Pregnancy Options

Morning After Pill

Schedule an Appointment

 

Image posed by model

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Is the Abortion Pill and the Morning After Pill the same?

Is the Abortion Pill and the Morning After Pill the same?

What is the “Abortion Pill?” Is the Abortion Pill and the “Morning After Pill” the same? The Abortion Pill and Morning After Pill are not the same medication and they each function very differently. This article is intended for informational purposes so that you can differentiate between the Morning After Pill and the Abortion Pill.

The Morning After Pill, also commonly known as Plan B, is a popular name for numerous brands of birth control pills that contain the hormone Levonorgestrel. These pills can be used to prevent ovulation and do not harm an existing pregnancy when taken as directed. In California, a prescription is not required to obtain birth control pills. To read more about the Morning After Pill, click here.

The Abortion Pill is a drug called Mifepristone, Mifeprex, or RU486 and is available by prescription only. Mifepristone, when used in combination with Misoprostol, disrupts an existing pregnancy (but not if the pregnancy is an ectopic pregnancy—a different procedure or medication will be needed). It is now approved for use up to 70 days (10 weeks) from a woman’s last menstrual period to terminate an early pregnancy. Mifepristone is obtained, with a doctor’s prescription only, at your local pharmacy such as Walgreens pharmacy, CVS pharmacy or Target pharmacy.

Disrupting an existing pregnancy is a two-part regimen when using these pills. Mifepristone, or Mifeprex, is an anti-progesterone that ends a pregnancy by blocking the uterine wall receptors to the hormone progesterone. This causes the lining of the uterine walls to shed like they do during a menstrual cycle. It also softens and dilates the cervix, thus facilitating abortion.

Misoprostol is used to help expel the pregnancy. Misoprostol is a prostaglandin that induces uterine contractions and softens and dilates the cervix. It is used approximately two days after taking Mifepristone to complete the abortion process. When used in combination with Mifepristone, abortion is complete approximately 97% of the time.

After taking the Mifepristone and Misoprostol regimen, it is common to experience pelvic cramping and vaginal bleeding and spotting, including the expelling of tissue and blood clots for an average of 9-16 days. It is also common to experience nausea, vomiting, dizziness, headaches, fever, chills, weakness, and diarrhea.

A follow-up visit 7-14 days after taking the abortion pill regimen is very important to ensure there is no tissue left behind and that the abortion occurred successfully. In the event Mifepristone has not worked, as determined by an ultrasound during the follow-up visit, a woman will discuss her options with her provider.

For women considering using the abortion pill but who would like to meet in person with a registered nurse or trained counselor to discuss personal questions, we recommend visiting one of our three Support Circle clinics in San Francisco, Oakland and Redwood City. All appointments are confidential and free.

Support Circle provides information about the abortion pill and morning after pill but does not prescribe or dispense these medications.

Links:

Morning After Pill – An Overview of Emergency Contraception

Plan B Emergency Contraceptive

Ella Emergency Contraceptive

Combination Pill Emergency Contraceptive

 

References:

  1. http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/PostmarketDrugSafetyInformationforPatientsandProviders/ucm111323.htm
  2. http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm088643.pdf
  3. http://www.rhtp.org/Abortion/mifepristone/default.asp
  4. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/429755_3
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Combination Pill Emergency Contraceptive

Combination Pill – Emergency Contraceptive

What is the Combination Pill emergency contraceptive?

Combination Pill Emergency Contraceptive

Combination Pill Emergency Contraceptive

The “Morning After Pill” is a common name for the most popular type of emergency contraceptive. Emergency contraceptives 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).

The Combination Pill (CP) contains a combination of the hormones levonorgestrel (progestin) and ethinyl estradiol (estrogen) found in regular birth control pills. Certain brands of the birth control pill can be used as a CP for emergency contraception. When taken as a back-up oral contraceptive method, CP is to be used as soon as possible, but no more than five days (120 hours), after unprotected sex or contraception failure, to reduce the chance of pregnancy. Emergency contraceptives do not protect against HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases.

In California, women of any age are legally able to purchase the Combination Pill at a pharmacy with a pharmacist consultation but without a prescription. However, as of July 2016, many of the larger pharmacies including CVS and Walgreens are not yet ready to begin this new process. Ask your local San Francisco Bay Area pharmacy if they are able to dispense CP without a prescription.

How does the Combination Pill work?

The Combination Pill is actually a number of regular birth control pills that are taken in multiple doses. The number of pills to take at one time and how many times they are to be taken depends on the type or brand of pill you have. Ask (or consult) with your doctor or a pharmacist to see how to use your combination pill for emergency contraception. When used for emergency contraception, Combination Pills are not as effective as progestin only pills such as Plan B One Step or Next Choice One Dose. Combination Pills are safe for almost any woman to use, even women who are not able to take the birth control pill on a regular basis.

The main function of levonorgestrel and ethinyl estradiol combined is to prevent or delay ovulation (i.e. to stop the egg from releasing), to block fertilization of the egg, or to prevent the egg from attaching (implantation) to the wall of the uterus (womb). The latest scientific research shows that FDA approved ECPs containing levonorgestrel or ulipristal acetate do not inhibit the implantation of a fertilized egg. ECPs stop pregnancy by keeping the egg from leaving the ovary or keeping the sperm from joining the egg. CP will not stop or harm an embryo that has already implanted. If you are already pregnant, emergency contraception will not work. It is not the abortion pill.

The Combination Pill as an emergency contraceptive works before ovulation occurs so if you have unprotected sex after ovulation, taking CP may not stop a pregnancy. If you have unprotected sex in the days or weeks after the use of CP, there is a risk of becoming pregnant.

Is the Combination Pill the same as the birth control pill?

The Combination Pill is the same as the birth control pill. However, it is a common misconception that you can simply double up your birth control pill. The truth is that you need to achieve a certain level of levenorgestrel and ethinyl estradiol to be considered an effective emergency contraceptive. Not all birth control pills can be used as EC. The brands of birth control pills that can be used as emergency contraceptive pills, due to the levels of levonorgestrel and ethinyl estradiol they contain, include: Altavera, Amethia, Camrese, Enpresse, Introvale, Jolessa, Lessina, Levora, Lutera, Nordette, Ogestrel, Portia, Quasense, Seasonale, Sronyx, Trivora, but there are many more brands. Your doctor can inform you of the exact dosage and at what frequency you will need to take the CP based on the brand and hormone levels in your birth control pill.

Are there side effects of the Combination Pill?

Side effects of the emergency contraceptive pill may include nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain or cramps, breast tenderness, headache, dizziness, and fatigue (tiredness). Your period may be delayed, come sooner, be heavier or lighter than normal. These side effects usually do not occur for more than a few days after taking the medication. If vomiting occurs within one hour of taking the pill, contact your doctor to see if you need to repeat the dose. If your period is more than one week late, you may be 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, or San Francisco. We offer free pregnancy tests and same day appointments.

Support Circle provides information about emergency contraceptives but does not prescribe or dispense these medications.

Chat with a Nurse

Schedule an appointment

Morning After Pill

Ella – Emergency Contraceptive

Plan B – Emergency Contraceptive

 

References:

  1. http://ec.princeton.edu/info/combecp.html
  2. https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a601050.html

 

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Ella Emergency Contraceptive

Ella –  Emergency Contraceptive / Morning After Pill

What is Ella?

The “Morning After Pill” is a common name for the most popular type of emergency contraceptive. Emergency contraceptives or emergency birth control (EC) is used to reduce the chance of a woman becoming pregnant after she has had unprotected sex without using birth control, during the fertile days while using natural family planning, or if the birth control method failed. EC is most effective when taken as soon as possible (within a few hours). Emergency contraceptives will not protect against HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Ella Emergency Contraceptive

Ella Emergency Contraceptive

Ella is a single dose emergency contraceptive pill (ECP). It is a back-up oral contraceptive method to be used as soon as possible, but no more than five days after unprotected sex or contraception failure, to reduce the chance of pregnancy. Currently, there is not a generic version for Ella in the United States.

The Ella brand pill requires a visit to a doctor to obtain a prescription. This is true even in California where women of any age are legally able to purchase emergency contraceptive pills at a pharmacy (i.e. CVS, Target, Walgreens, Rite-Aid) with a pharmacist consultation but without a prescription.

How does it work?

Ella contains a drug called ulipristal acetate (ulipristal). Ulipristal works by preventing ovulation (egg does not release) for five full days following unprotected sex. That’s important because sperm can live for five days in a woman’s reproductive tract. Ella’s ability to prevent or delay ovulation does not decrease over the five-day period following when you take it. Most emergency contraceptives are only approved for three-days use.

The latest scientific research shows that FDA approved ECPs containing levonorgestrel or ulipristal acetate do not inhibit the implantation of a fertilized egg. ECPs stop pregnancy by keeping the egg from leaving the ovary or keeping the sperm from joining the egg. Ella will not stop or harm an embryo that has already implanted. If you are already pregnant, it will not work. It is not the abortion pill.

Do not use Ella more than once in a menstrual cycle. Ella works before ovulation occurs so if you have unprotected sex after ovulation, taking Ella may not stop a pregnancy. If you have unprotected sex in the days or weeks after the use of Ella, there is a risk of becoming pregnant.

Are there side effects?

Side effects of Ella may include nausea, abdominal pain or cramps, headache and dizziness. Your period may be delayed, come sooner, be heavier or lighter than normal. If your period is more than one week late, you may be pregnant. You should not use Ella if you are breastfeeding.

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.

 

Chat with a Nurse

Schedule an Appointment

Morning After Pill

Plan B Emergency Contraceptive

 

References:

  1. http://www.ellanow.com/
  2. http://ec.princeton.edu/info/ecp.html

 

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Plan B Emergency Contraceptive

Plan B –  Emergency Contraceptive / Morning After Pill

What is Plan B?

The “Morning After Pill” is a common name for the most popular type of emergency contraceptive. Emergency contraceptives 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).

Plan B Emergency Contraceptive

Plan B Emergency Contraceptive

There are several brands of emergency contraceptive pills made with a drug named levonorgestrel, including: Fallback Solo, Next Choice, Opcicon, Plan B One Step and other generic brands. Plan B One Step (Plan B) is one of the most commonly recognized brand names.

Plan B is a back-up oral contraceptive method to be used as soon as possible, but no more than three days (72 hours), after unprotected sex or contraception failure, to reduce the chance of pregnancy. Emergency contraceptives do not protect against HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases. Plan B and generic emergency contraceptive pills containing progestin only are available over-the-counter without a prescription.

How does it work?

Levonorgestrel is a hormone known as a progestin. Brands such as Plan B contain this hormone at a higher dose than birth control pills. The main function of levonorgestrel is to prevent or delay ovulation (i.e. to stop the egg from releasing), to block fertilization of the egg, or to prevent the egg from attaching (implantation) to the wall of the uterus (womb). The latest scientific research shows that FDA approved ECPs containing levonorgestrel or ulipristal acetate do not inhibit the implantation of a fertilized egg. ECPs stop pregnancy by keeping the egg from leaving the ovary or keeping the sperm from joining the egg. Plan B will not stop or harm an embryo that has already implanted. If you are already pregnant, emergency contraception will not work. It is not the abortion pill.

Plan B can be used more than once during the month. However, it is not an effective regular birth control method to prevent pregnancy because it does not provide lasting protection. Plan B works before ovulation occurs so if you have unprotected sex after ovulation, taking Plan B may not stop a pregnancy. If you have unprotected sex in the days or weeks after the use of Plan B, there is a risk of becoming pregnant.

Are there side effects?

Side effects of the emergency contraceptive pill may include nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain or cramps, breast tenderness, headache, dizziness, and fatigue (tiredness). Your period may be delayed, come sooner, be heavier or lighter than normal. These side effects usually do not occur for more than a few days after taking the medication. If vomiting occurs within two hours of taking the pill, contact your doctor to see if you need to repeat the dose. If your period is more than one week late, you may be 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.

Chat with a Nurse

Schedule an appointment

Morning After Pill

Ella – Emergency Contraceptive

 

References:

  1. http://www.planbonestep.com/
  2. http://ec.princeton.edu/info/ecp.html

 

 

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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.

 

Chat with a nurse

Free Pregnancy Test

Schedule an appointment

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