Pregnancy prevention 101: What women should know about emergency contraception?

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Pregnancy prevention medications are a basic necessity for any adult woman who is sexual active. To prevent conception, most women access birth control pills or other methods of contraception. There are mainly two types of oral pregnancy preventing medicines; they are – normal birth control and emergency contraception.

Here are some facts about emergency contraceptives that every woman should know

How does it work?

The morning after pill stops pregnancy by delaying or prohibiting ovulation. One of the day after tablet, Plan B pill contains synthetic hormones levonorgestrel and progestin which contains two tablets that need to be taken within three days after the unprotected intercourse. If the egg is already fertilized and released, the tablet also stops it from being attached to the endometrial lining in the uterus. However, if the fertilized egg is already attached to the uterine lining, emergency contraception does not work.

Therefore it should not be used to remove the already implanted fertilized egg, which incidentally can be done with abortive medication.

Are there any side effects of day after pill?

According to a survey, fewer than one in four women experience minor side effects like cramps and nausea in the initial 24 hours but most go though the day without difficulty.

Which morning after pill is the most recommended?

Two of the most recommended emergency contraceptive is Plan B and Next choice – they both contain synthetic hormones progestin and estrogen combination.

How do I access the medication?

Plan B and Next choice both are over the counter medication which does not require prescription. Although, you will need an ID proof that shows you are above 17 years of age. In fact, many women buy Plan B online and keep a stock of it for emergency cases. Otherwise you can also buy it from a pharmacist or purchase it from a drug store (this probably needs an application).

When it is to be taken?

The emergency contraceptive medicine contains two pills. These pills need to be taken within three days, i.e. 72 hours. The second tablet is to be taken after a twelve hours gap after taking the first tablet. The medications are at their maximum potential when taken within 24 hours, and have about 95% effectiveness, however this efficacy decreases after this time bracket.

Research says that emergency contraceptives are effective till the fifth day of unprotected intercourse, although their effectiveness is really low comparatively.

Do not confuse it with different tablets

Even if their main ingredients seem the same, there is a difference between regular birth control and day after pills. Regular birth control pills like Ovral pills and Loette pills are different from Plan B. Ovral pill are only effective when taken every day and before the intercourse, while Plan B should not be taken every day, only in cases of emergency (accidental unprotected intercourse).

It should also be not confused with abortion pills, Mifepristone and Misoprostol. Abortion medication can only be taken when the fertilized egg is already implanted itself in the uterus. Day after pills can only prevent the pregnancy by delaying the ovulation process, fertilization and in most cases stopping the fertilized egg from implantation.

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