emergency contraception (EC) Pills

How do Emergency Contraception pills work?

  • Progestin-only EC—This is a single pill that should be taken as soon as possible after having unprotected sex. Progestin is a hormone in birth control pills and other forms of hormonal birth control. It stops or delays ovulation to prevent pregnancy. It is most effective when taken within 3 days of unprotected sex. It is moderately effective if taken within 5 days. This pill is available without prescription to anyone of any age. It can be found in pharmacy usually in the family planning section. Brand names of these pills are Plan B ,One-Step, My Way, Next Choice One Dose, Take Action, and Aftera.
  • Ulipristal—This medication affects how progesterone works in the body. It is thought to delay or prevent ovulation. It can be taken up to 5 days after unprotected sex with same effectiveness. When taken as directed, ulipristal is more effective in preventing pregnancy than other EC pills.. It is available by prescription only.
  • Combined birth control pills—Birth control pills that contain both estrogen and progestin are called combined hormonal birth control pills. Taken in higher-than-usual amounts, they can be used for EC. You need to take combined EC pills as soon as possible up to 5 days after having unprotected sex. They work by delaying ovulation. They are taken in two doses. The number of pills needed for EC differs for each brand of pill.

How often can I use Emergency Contraception pills?

EC pills can be used more than once during a single menstrual cycle, but you should not rely on EC pills as a long-term birth control method. EC pills are not as effective in preventing pregnancy as using a birth control method consistently . There may be more side effects from frequent use of EC than from use of a standard birth control method.

What are the possible side effects of taking Emergency Contraception pills?

EC pills have not shown to cause any serious complications. Your next period might not occur at the expected time. You may have irregular bleeding or spotting in the week or month after taking EC pills which goes away on its own.

Other short-term side effects of EC pills are:

  • Nausea and vomiting (especially if you are taking combined EC pills)
  • Headache
  • Breast tenderness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue

Is there anything that decreases the effectiveness of Emergency Contraception pills?
Being obese or overweight may decrease the effectiveness of EC pills. you may want to consider having a copper IUD inserted. Copper IUDs are effective in all women of any weight.

How can I get Emergency Contraception (EC) as soon as possible?

  • The progestin-only pill is available over the counter in any pharmacies and other stores to anyone of any age. The progestin-only pill usually can be found in the family planning section of pharmacy. Not all stores carry the over-the-counter EC pill, so it is best to confirm ahead .You can buy EC pills ahead of time so that you always have them if needed, . Many pharmacies offer online ordering and shipping services.
  • Ulipristal , combined birth control pills, and copper IUD are available only by prescription. To get a prescription or to have the copper IUD inserted, you have to call your gynecologist or other health care professional . You also can ask your gynecologist or other health care professional to give you a prescription for these EC methods at any routine health care visit. That way, you are always prepared if you need to use them .

How do I start or resume using a birth control method after taking EC pills?
How you start or resume birth control after using EC pills depends on which type of EC pills you used:

  • If you used the progestin-only pill or combined EC pills, you can resume or start any birth control method right away. For the next 7 days, you must also use a barrier method such as condoms, diaphragm, and spermicides along with your regular birth control method or do not have sexual intercourse.
  • If you used ulipristal and want to resume or start using a hormonal birth control method such as pill, patch, ring, implant or hormonal IUD, you need to wait until 5 days after taking ulipristal. You also must use a barrier method (or do not have sexual intercourse) until your next menstrual period. Using a hormonal birth control method and taking ulipristal both at the same time can reduce the effectiveness of both medications.

Do I need follow-up care after using EC?

No tests or procedures needed after taking EC. You should have a pregnancy test if you have not had a period within a week of expecting it . None of the EC pills have been shown to harm a pregnancy or health of the baby if you already are pregnant.
Keep in mind that EC does not prevent sexually transmitted infections(STI). If you are at risk of getting a sexually transmitted infection and have had unprotected sex,then see your gynecologist or other health care professional.

What are long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) methods?

Long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) methods include the intrauterine device (IUD) and the birth control implant. Both methods are highly effective in preventing pregnancy, last for several years, and are easy to use. Both are reversible—if you want to become pregnant or if you want to stop using them, you can have them removed at any time.

How effective are the LARC methods?

  • The IUD and implant are the most effective forms of reversible birth control available. During the first year of typical use, pregnancy rate is fewer than 1 in 100 women using an IUD or an implant . This rate is almost same range as that for sterilization.
  • How do LARC methods compare with any other methods of contraception?
    Over the long term, LARC methods are 20 times more effective than birth control pills, the patch, or the ring.