67% of American women know about the ways of preventing pregnancy after unprotected sex but less than 1% of women use them. And this is not surprising because there are a lot of frightening rumors about emergency contraception. Today we will examine the pros and cons of emergency contraception and will tell you what morning-after pills are considered best.
What is emergency contraception and when is it really needed?
According to the definition of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, emergency contraception is any way to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sexual intercourse.
Sex can be considered unprotected if:
- contraceptives were not used – condoms, drugs and intrauterine devices;
- you used a condom that is not suitable in size and it was torn or slipped off;
- you forgot about contraceptives – you took a birth control pill too late, did not get an injection, did not use a ring or patch;
- a spermicidal tablet or film is not completely dissolved;
- a cervical (uterine) cap has shifted, the diaphragm has broken or the intrauterine device has fallen out;
- an error occurred in the calculations with the calendar method of contraception (the essence of the method is in observing the menstrual cycle and refusing
- sex during ovulation. The method is not very effective – in couples who regularly use the calendar method, 24 out of 100 women become pregnant);
- a man failed to interrupt intercourse in time (even with an impeccably performed maneuver, the reliability of this method leaves much to be desired – in couples who practice interrupted intercourse, 28 out of 100 women become pregnant).
According to WHO, emergency contraception prevents pregnancy in 95% after unprotected sex. Although this is not a guarantee of peace, the effectiveness of the method is still five times higher than that of an interrupted intercourse or calendar method.
4 important facts about emergency contraception
- 1Methods of emergency contraception can be used even by those women who have contraindications to the use of everyday contraceptives;
- 2Tablets for emergency contraception can be taken several times during one menstrual cycle. But it is important to understand that they are not as effective as everyday contraceptives as a means of long-term protection;
- 3Although pills for emergency contraception are called “morning after”, they can be used at any time after sex;
- 4Emergency contraceptives do not protect against genital infections.
Why you need to see a doctor after unprotected sex
There are a number of reasons why you need to consult a gynecologist after unprotected sex.
The doctor will help you choose the general line of contraception. This largely depends on the lifestyle of the woman. Indeed, there is a very big difference between regular sex with a regular partner when a woman just forgets to take birth control pills and sex with several partners in a month.
A woman can also be examined for genital infections. After accidental sex, women are much more worried about contraception than the need to be checked for sexually transmitted diseases. In this case, the consequences of past illnesses can be very serious.
A visit to the doctor allows you to feel truly safe – both in terms of contraception and in terms of health.
Top 3 emergency contraceptive pills
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommend three types of emergency contraceptive pills. Let’s figure out what is the difference between these pills and in which cases you should buy them.
1. Levonorgestrel tablets
Effectiveness: 1 out of 100 women is at risk of becoming pregnant.
What is it and how it works: These are hormonal pills that delay the ovulation – this helps to avoid fertilization if sex happened before ovulation and during it when the chance of getting pregnant is the highest.
How to use: Take the medicine within 72 hours after sex, the sooner the better. The best option is to take the pill within 24 hours.
The best levonorgestrel emergency contraceptive pills are My Choice, Option-2, Opcicon, Morning After, BionaFem, New Day, Next Choice, EContra, Preventeza, AfterPill, Take Action, Fallback Solo, Aftera, Plan B, React.
2. Ulipristal tablets
Effectiveness: Less than 1 out of 100 women become pregnant.
What is it and how it works: This is the second most reliable method recommended by doctors. These are non-hormonal pills that prevent the egg from escaping from the ovary.
How to use: Take one tablet within five days after unprotected sex. The sooner you can take the medicine, the higher the efficiency.
The best ulipristal emergency contraceptive pills are Ella and EllaOne.
3. Mifepristone tablets
Effectiveness: 1 out of 100 women is at risk of becoming pregnant.
What is it and how it works: These are hormonal pills. Their mechanism of action depends on the phase of the cycle. The medicine either delays ovulation or expels the embryo from the inner lining of the uterus. Mifepristone tablets are considered one of the most reliable emergency contraceptive pills but they have many contraindications.
How to use: Take the medicine within five days after sex. If more than three days have passed since unprotected sex, you need to think about using this particular drug
The best mifepristone emergency contraceptive pills are Agesta and Negele.
Is emergency contraception dangerous?
WHO experts believe that emergency contraception is safe for health.
As a rule, emergency contraception methods are not harmful to health. Although some methods have contraindications, they are usually associated with some kind of severe reaction to the components of the drug in the past.
In ordinary life, a healthy woman does not need to undergo a thorough examination to use emergency contraception.
At the same time, such contraceptives are medications. This means that they may have side effects.
The most common side effects:
- headache – in 19% of women;
- a delay in menstruation for a week or bleeding not associated with menstruation – in 16% of women;
- nausea – in 12% of women;
- breast tenderness, abdominal pain, dizziness and fatigue – very rarely.
In most cases, side effects go away quickly without any treatment.
Myths about emergency contraception
Myth 1: Emergency contraception is contraindicated in adolescents.
This is not true. Doctors around the world believe that premature pregnancy or abortion is much more dangerous to health than emergency contraception. In addition, to get the pills, the teenager will have to see a doctor – and this further reduces the risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections.
Myth 2: Emergency contraception harms unborn children
This is not true. None of the studies identified a risk for children born in women who used contraceptives.
Myth 3: Emergency contraception increases the risk of infertility
No emergency contraceptive increases the risk of infertility in the future.
Myth 4: If you take an emergency contraceptive not knowing about pregnancy, the child will be born a freak.
Abortion can only be caused by mifepristone tablets. All other emergency contraceptives do not affect the pregnancy and development of the child.
Myth 5: Emergency contraception increases the risk of ectopic pregnancy in the future.
Everything is exactly the opposite: any contraceptives reduce this risk because they reduce the chances of getting pregnant.
3 main questions about emergency contraception
How to make sure emergency contraception works?
The most reliable way is to wait for the onset of menstruation. Another way is to take a blood test for chorionic hormone (hCG). This analysis confirms the pregnancy but it makes sense to take it no earlier than 7-10 days after unprotected sex. The best option is to take an analysis from the first day of delayed menstruation.
It is important to understand that the absence of high levels of hCG in the blood is not a reason to calm down because in some women, the concentration of the hormone rises more slowly. In this situation, it remains only to wait for menstruation. If the level of hCG is high, this is a clear signal that conception has occurred.
Should I buy emergency contraception in advance so that I don’t have to go to a doctor later?
This is a very bad practice. If you know that you will have sex, you need to purchase means for normal contraception in advance: condoms, regular birth control pills or an IUD. Timely contraception is much better than emergency one.
What is the best way to prevent pregnancy?
The most reliable contraceptive tactic is to use means that remain in the woman’s body for a long time: for example, IUDs or implants. But if a woman has several partners, then there is still no escape from condoms even if she uses some kind of “long-playing” method of contraception. This reduces the risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections.
IMPORTANT! This article is not an advertisement for any medicine. Before using emergency contraceptives, consult a specialist.