Oral emergency contraceptives are commonly known as the “morning after pill” or by one of the brand names, Plan B. The morning after pill is used to help prevent pregnancy. The pill is designed to be taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex.
There are many misconceptions about when and how to use this medication. It’s important to understand the facts about the morning after pill so that if you need to use it in the future you use it correctly.
Myth: The morning after pill is an abortion pill.
Fact: The morning after pill does not cause abortions.
The morning after pill does not affect a current pregnancy and cannot be used as an abortion pill to terminate pregnancy. It only prevents pregnancy by delaying ovulation and preventing fertilization of the egg.
Myth: The morning after pill can be taken regularly instead of birth control.
Fact: The morning after pill should not replace birth control.
Although the morning after pill can be used to prevent pregnancy, it should not be used regularly with birth control or used to replace birth control. Regular use of the morning after pill can cause unwanted side effects such as irregular bleeding and in the case of Ella, the use of birth control can make the emergency contraception less effective.
Myth 3: The morning after pill can only be taken the morning after unprotected sex.
Fact: The morning after pill can be taken within 72 hours (3 days) or 120 hours (5 days) of having unprotected sex depending on the brand.
While emergency contraceptives are commonly called the “morning after pill”, the medication can be taken past that time period depending on the brand. Levonorgestrel (includes. New Day, Plan B One Step, My Way, Take Action, Aftera, My Choice, and Option 2) can be taken up to 72 hours (3 days) after unprotected sex. Ulipristal acetate (includes Ella or Esmya) gives you the option of taking the pill within 120 hours (5 days) of having unprotected sex. For both types of morning after pills, the sooner the pill is taken after unprotected sex, the more effective it is.
Myth: The morning after pill can be harmful.
Fact: The morning after pill does not harm a current pregnancy or affect your chances of getting pregnant in the future.
Studies by manufacturers that produce emergency contraception show no medical evidence that the morning after pill harms an existing pregnancy or your future chances of becoming pregnant. Since these pills only stay in your body for a short period of time and only affect one incident of unprotected sex, it does not affect future fertility.
Myth: The morning after pill has severe side effects.
Fact: The morning after pill side effects tend to be mild and don’t last long.
The morning after pill has limited side effects and according to Planned Parenthood, there have never been any serious complications reported. Any symptoms are short-lived and usually only last for one or two days. Symptoms may include a lighter period, a heavier period, an early or late period, nausea, lower abdominal cramps, tiredness, headaches, dizziness, breast tenderness, or vomiting. If you vomit two to three hours after taking the morning after pill or your symptoms are severe and don’t go away, seek medical attention.
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