Emergency Contraceptive Pills

5 min read

Written by Pradeep

Pradeep

Emergency Contraceptive Pills

The emergency contraceptive pills (ECP) is a safe and effective hormonal method of contraception that is used by women after having unprotected sex or when the use of any other birth control method has failed to prevent them from getting pregnant. These pills contain the same hormones found in contraceptive pills. But in higher doses. It is also known as the “morning-after pill” or “post-coital pill”.

As the name signifies emergency contraceptive pill is only meant for emergency situations. It is not for regular or repeated use and is only used to prevent unwanted pregnancy and not to end one. These pills are effective if used within a limited frame of time after sexual exposure. We will say this again, these morning-after pills should be used only in case of emergencies, as regular use can cause lifelong problems.

In This Article

When Can I Use Emergency Contraceptive Pills?

Emergency contraceptives are to be used after unprotected sex if a woman doesn’t want to get pregnant from the sexual act. Other situations where you can use the contraceptive pills include-

  • If in case you have not used the contraceptive method in voluntary sex
  • If during a sexual act there is slippage, leakage, or breakage of a condom
  • Your partner did not pull himself out in time and ejaculated inside you
  • If you have forgotten to take two or more birth control pills in a month
  • In case a woman is a victim of forced vaginal sex
  • If in case you have miscalculated the infertility period when you are following the monthly periodic self-restraint method based on your menstrual cycle

Whatever be the reason, a simple rule that works for morning-after pills is ‘the sooner the better. The chances of your getting pregnant can be positively reduced to just 1% to 2% if you take a morning-after pill soon after having unprotected sex.

What Are The Types Of Emergency Contraceptive Pills?

What Are The Types Of Emergency Contraceptive Pills

There are two types of morning-after pills:

  1. The yuppie regime – pills that contain large doses of both estrogen and progesterone, must be taken in two doses. It is a less effective method
  2. Pills containing a high dose of progesterone –levonorgestrel

However, Levonorgestrel is the only regimen that has been approved in India to be used as emergency contraception. Currently, these pills are available at a reasonable cost and can be bought from any pharmacist shop.

How Do Emergency Contraceptive Pills Work?

Basically, the morning after pills blocks or prevent a pregnancy. The exact mechanism of morning-after pills is still not clear, but there are many types of research that have suggested that these pills prevent pregnancy by delaying or inhibiting ovulation.

There are various other studies that suggested that these contraceptive pills alter the inner lining of the uterus (endometrium) and make them unsuitable for implantation secondly, they may even be responsible for preventing the transport of sperm and ovum.

Can Emergency Contraceptive Pills Induce Abortion?

It should be clearly understood that these pills can only help you with preventing unwanted pregnancy, if in case the implantation has already happened then they will no longer be effective as these pills do not abort an already established pregnancy. That means if you are pregnant already, the pills will not affect the implanted fetus.

How Effective Are Emergency Contraceptive Pills?

How Effective Are Emergency Contraceptive Pills_

Morning-after pills are quite effective in preventing unwanted pregnancies if taken as prescribed. Also for their full effectiveness, it’s important to take them within the short time frame of 72 hours, the best way will be to take them as early as possible. However, it is important to understand that no contraceptive method is 100% effective so the slight risk will always be there.

What Are The Side Effects Of Oral Emergency Contraceptive Pills?

Generally, emergency contraceptives have side effects similar to oral contraceptive pills such as nausea, vomiting, headache, and dizziness. However, they do not last for more than one or two days.

If in case vomiting has occurred after taking the pill then it’s advisable to take another dose of the same pill. In order to reduce the risk of nausea, you can also take anti-nausea medicine. Largely, these morning-after pills are considered safe and are used by millions of women around the world to prevent pregnancy. However, these pills are not suitable as a regular contraception method.

Are There Any Contraindications Of Emergency Contraceptive Pills?

Emergency Contraceptive Pills

The WHO has listed no medical contraindication for the use of morning-after pills. The use of morning-after pillsis quite safe even if a woman is pregnant. Morning-after pills do not harm the fetus, but become ineffective if pregnancy has already occurred.

How Can I Buy Emergency Contraceptive Pills?

These pills are available by almost all pharmacists and chemists across the country, though in some cases a prescription from the doctor is mandatory. There are several types of brands available on the market for contraceptive pills and the doses of each depend upon which type of pill you are taking – a single pill or a dose of two pills. However, irrespective of what pill or brand, you are taking, the first pill or dose should be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex and the second dose should be consumed within exact 12 hours of the first dose. For higher efficacy, it is advised to take it as early as possible.

Click here to read about the brands of morning-after pills in India.

The use of morning-after pills has empowered thousands of women from unplanned and unwanted pregnancies. This in turn has decreased the rate of unsafe abortions in our society. There is also a need of raised public awareness about the usage of these pills. By eradicating misunderstandings it can benefit the reproductive health of women.

Please note that this article is presented for informational purposes only, do seek your doctor’s opinion.

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