What is Emergency Contraception and how does it work?

Emergency contraceptive pills are becoming more widely available to men and women. Plan B One-Step, a brand of emergency contraception, is now available to all ages in the United States and is sold


Two-pill versions of emergency contraception are still sold behind the counter for those over 17 years of age. Those 16 and under need a prescription. on drug store shelves. Soon, generic versions will be sold on the shelves to those over 17.

With emergency contraceptive pills becoming openly available, it’s important to know how they work, when to use them, and their effectiveness.

What is emergency contraception?

Emergency contraception refers to types of contraceptive methods that can be used after sex to prevent pregnancy. It is used when other methods of birth control have failed, such as a broken condom. Emergency contraception shouldn’t be used as a regular form of contraception. Emergency contraception helps prevent pregnancy. It does not terminate pregnancies that have already formed, and therefore is not an abortion pill. Emergency contraceptive pills do not prevent sexually transmitted diseases.

How does emergency contraception work?

Progestin-only emergency contraceptive pills, such as Plan B One-Step, include a type of progestin hormone named levonorgestrel. Levonorgestrel works to prevent ovulation, thereby preventing fertilization of an egg. It also prevents implantation of a fertilized egg into the uterus by altering the endometrial lining, preventing pregnancy from developing.

When do I take emergency contraception?

Emergency contraceptive pills are designed to be used only in emergencies. That said, emergencies happen. Examples of these instances are a broken condom, missed birth control pills, failed withdrawal before ejaculation, expulsion of an IUD, or sexual abuse cases such as rape.

If you have encountered an emergency situation, it’s important to take emergency contraceptive pills as soon as possible to increase their effectiveness. Plan B One-Step is available to all ages on drug store shelves.

How effective is emergency contraception?

The FDA states that the levonorgestrel-only pills have an effectiveness of 89%. This means that of all of the women who would’ve gotten pregnant without taking the pills, 89% will not get pregnant after taking the pills. Effectiveness varies based on how quickly the pill is taken, however. Recent studies have also suggested that body weight may alter effectiveness.

What are the side effects of emergency contraception pills?

The most commonly reported side effect from emergency contraception pills is nausea. Patients may also experience spotting after they take the pill, or have a heavier or lighter period than normal. Some patients experience breast tenderness, tiredness, or dizziness. If any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away, tell your doctor.

If you are interested in talking to Dr. Morice about emergency contraception, call us at (985) 702-BABY to make an appointment. Dr. Morice provides excellent OB-GYN care in Morgan City, LA. Dr. Morice also specializes in tubal reversal surgery.

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