Did you know that the morning-after pill can be your salvation from unwanted pregnancy if you had unprotected sex? But its use also has side effects.
How much do you really know about this method of contraception? Maybe the morning-after pill works as a simple and fast method against conception, but it is certainly not the best protection against unwanted pregnancy.
It is no secret that today we engage in sexual relations much faster and more freely and we talk about topics from the bedroom, car adventures, or some other places in everyday conversations. They have become a completely normal thing because the society we live in dictates such a trend.
It is also no secret that today it is very easy to find a way to prevent unwanted pregnancy, which is another reason to rush into some relationships that may never mean anything to us, either out of desire or to prove something to ourselves or others. No matter what the reason is – entering such relationships without thinking is always stupid and reckless.
And what if that method of contraception fails?
In fact, any other method of contraception can fail too. For example, a condom can burst or slip, or you can simply ignore the possible consequences of unprotected intercourse and indulge in the moment.
Then the morning-after pill is the real thing!
What is the morning-after pill?
Unlike contraceptive pills, this contraceptive pill is intended to be used only once and does not involve continuous use. It is also called emergency contraception.
The morning-after pill is not the same as the contraceptive pill, although it has the same purpose – to prevent unwanted pregnancy.
It is used only once, after having unprotected sex and only in emergencies, and it is not something you should always rely on and use as a method of regular contraception.
How does the morning-after pill work and how does it prevent pregnancy?
To better understand the role of this pill and not to get into the situation of buying it as often as a vitamin, it is not bad to know how it actually works and what you can expect when you consume it.
Every healthy woman has fertile and infertile days and a period when she ovulates. Then the chances of pregnancy are the greatest. Hormones, especially progesterone and estrogen, play a big role in all this.
When the level of progesterone in a woman’s body is higher, then ovulation does not occur and there is no chance of pregnancy. This is exactly how the morning-after pill works.
Namely, its main ingredient is levonorgestrel, a synthetic hormone made in the laboratory that acts as progesterone in the body and does its job – it prevents conception. Thanks to this ingredient, the pill can:
- Delay ovulation.
- Prevent fertilization if the unprotected intercourse was close in time to ovulation.
This is how most birth control pills work – the difference is in the level of this hormone. Regular contraceptive pills have a lower dose that is taken during a certain period, but the morning-after pill has a higher level of this hormone, in order to be more effective.
We can say that the morning-after pill is actually a hormone bomb, which is reason enough to consider whether you should use it often.
Pregnancy does not happen immediately after intercourse. A lot of conditions need to match for that to happen. If you have an intercourse during ovulation, the chances of getting pregnant immediately after sex are higher, but they are also great if you have sex a few days before it because sperm is able to survive in a woman’s body for up to 7 days waiting for your body to release an egg. However, when the level of progesterone in the body increases, it will not release an egg.
A morning-after pill is actually a dose of a hormone that is large enough to prevent the ovaries from releasing an egg or to prevent ovulation.
In addition to the pills for single use and continuous contraception, there are abortion pills in the spectrum of means that should prevent unwanted pregnancy, which terminate the already established pregnancy. However, their use is not yet legalized in all countries.
The morning-after pill cannot prevent an already established pregnancy.
When to use the morning-after pill?
The morning-after pill is a solution that you should resort to only in emergencies when your passions got out of control and you did not have the patience, time, and ways to use another method of protection.
Although it is usually bought under the name “morning-after pill”, that does not mean that you have to wait for a new day to take it, unless you are waiting for the pharmacy to open. If you have it on hand, you can take it immediately after unprotected intercourse. In fact, the sooner you take it, the more effective it will be.
The pill itself is effective for a few days after sex, and not just the first day (or the first morning), hence another illogicality in this name that can mislead you.
You may be wondering after how many days you can take the pill to prevent unwanted pregnancy.
They are generally effective even if you take them within 72 hours after sexual intercourse. So, you can relax – even if you had intercourse at a campground or any place where there is no pharmacy nearby, you have 3 days to act and come up with a solution.
Morning-after pills are not the same as birth control pills and do not serve as a preventative. You can’t take it in advance to prevent unwanted pregnancy. If you have unprotected intercourse after taking the pill, it will not have an effect, and the chances of getting pregnant are higher.
How often can I take the morning-after pill?
The answer is, not too often. Moreover, it is not recommended for more than twice a year. If you are sexually active every day, it means that you would also use these pills every day, and that is insane and pointless.
If you are already taking them every day, then it is better to consult your doctor about regular contraceptive pills that have lower levels of levonorgestrel. Not only that you take in an unnecessary dose of hormones in this way, but this way of thinking is a bad choice for your budget as well.
Another reason to think well about this method of protection is the price of the morning-after pill. Using regular birth control pills is significantly cheaper. The cost of birth control pills is around $20 to $50 for an individual pack that protects you for a month.
The price of one morning-after pill is around $15 to $45 depending on the manufacturer. It should be kept in mind that this is not permanent protection, but protection for one day. To be protected every day, you need to take them every day, that is, to set aside this amount of money every day. The math is clear here!
Is the morning-after pill good protection against unwanted pregnancy?
This is a good, but not completely reliable protection against pregnancy, and therefore not the best.
According to a study from 2010 conducted on 1696 women, about 2.5% of them got pregnant despite this protection. It is claimed that the probability that those pills prevent pregnancy is about 85%.
Even if you do not use the pill, the chance of getting pregnant during your fertile days and when you ovulate is not 100% but about 30%. When you take all that into account, the morning-after pill is quite effective. This still does not make it the best protection, but only an emergency solution.
The best protection against unwanted pregnancy though is to use condoms, be careful, and control your passions.
What are the morning-after pill side effects?
After taking the morning-after pill, you may experience the following side effects:
- Pain in the lower abdomen
- Breast tenderness
- Bleeding outside the menstrual cycle – there may be scanty bleeding that should stop by the next menstrual cycle. The next menstruation may be more or less abundant than usual.
- Vomiting and diarrhea – If you start vomiting within 2 hours of taking the medicine, contact your doctor who will assess whether you need to repeat the dose.
- Delayed menstrual cycle more than 7 days
- Irregular menstrual cycle – the next menstruation may come sooner or later than usual for you. If you do not get your period within 3 weeks of the intercourse, get tested for pregnancy.
It doesn’t sound harmless to play with hormones like this and you are certainly worried about how all this can affect your body. Although it may happen that some women do not feel any side effects at all, the morning-after pill is not completely harmless and you can notice its side effects on the same day.
Symptoms that you can expect include nausea, headache, abdominal pain, fatigue, dizziness, sensitive and painful breasts. Experiences with the morning-after pill show that it is not uncommon for minor bleeding to occur after use. Think now, how would you deal with this if you used them every day?
The experience of women largely confirms that the morning-after pill causes bleeding. Even if you don’t notice any side effects right away, you can notice them when it’s time to get your period. In fact, it can occur prematurely. The pill may delay ovulation, but also can delay menstrual bleeding for a few days.
This may be just one of the reasons why your menstruation is late. Bleeding can be spotty, not on time, it can be on time but abundant, and it can happen that everything passes without side effects.
One thing is for sure – bleeding after taking this pill is a common thing, and if your period is more than 7 days late, see a doctor and take a pregnancy test – maybe the protection was not effective after all.
Can the pill terminate pregnancy?
If you find out that you are pregnant, and you did not really plan to become a mother for some reason, you should know that the morning-after pill cannot terminate pregnancy.
It can prevent the fertilization of the egg by creating an unfavorable environment for the survival of sperm and hindering their movement as well as the implementation of the egg.
However, if fertilization occurs, and there is a chance for it when ovulation has occurred, it cannot terminate the pregnancy. Since you can’t know exactly when the time of your ovulation is, it’s important to take the pill as soon as possible, and not wait until the day after!
It may be effective in preventing pregnancy, but it is not powerful enough to cope with the beginning of a new life.
A morning-after pill is a great option that you should know about and it is completely safe, as long as you understand its purpose and use it accordingly. Being fast, simple, and easily accessible is its big advantage.
Like everything that is good, it has another side to keep in mind and the “but” that spoils everything. Awareness of the existence of such a method of contraception can also encourage irresponsible behavior.
Why worry about protection, when one powerful pill can solve everything, right? This is especially a problem today when everything has a sexual connotation and when a one-night stand is considered desirable, normal and trendy.
It is insane to embark on such adventures without real protection. Let’s be realistic, the morning-after pill is not magical and omnipotent. It may protect you from unwanted pregnancy, but it will not protect you from sexually transmitted diseases.
It is also not effective against negative emotions which, due to reckless and unplanned sex on a crazy night, can also appear the morning after. The pill does not erase these symptoms.