To prevent an unintended pregnancy after unprotected intercourse, emergency contraception (EC) always comes into our minds. As its name says, emergency contraception needs to be done in an urgent manner following the intercourse for it to work best.
There are a few types of emergency contraception:
We will be focusing on morning-after pill because it is the most common method people are using now.
The emergency contraceptive pill works by delaying ovulation in the body. Thus, it prevents the meet of an ovum and sperm. The emergency contraceptive pill can provide protection against pregnancy in females at reproductive age up to 5 days after intercourse.
However, you are advised to take the pill as soon as possible because the effectiveness may drop substantially as time passes. In fact, Ulipristal acetate ECP protects against pregnancy to a greater extent compared to Levonorgestrel-only ECP between 72 hours to 120 hours after unprotected intercourse. Therefore, the duration since the intercourse took place plays a crucial role in deciding which ECP to take.
Levonorgestrel comes in two strengths, 0.75mg and 1.5mg. Levonorgestrel 0.75mg is to be taken twice a day while 1.5mg is to be taken once a day, ideally within 72 hours after intercourse for both types.
Both regimens provide the same effectiveness, however, a single-dose regimen is usually preferred due to compliance issues. You should make sure not to miss the second dose of 0.75mg levonorgestrel.
Ulipristal acetate 30mg is to be taken once also, within 5 days following unprotected intercourse. Please note that these are all one-shot regimen only.
If vomiting occurs within 2 hours after taking the emergency pill, a second dose should be taken as soon as possible.
This plan B intervention is beneficial in circumstances like:
Nevertheless, there are shortcomings too:
Not recommended, the incidence of short term side effects might increase. The chance of getting an irregular period is high. There was a review saying that regular taking of morning-after pill has a chance of getting pregnant within 12 months.
Thus, you are advised to use another type of contraceptive method instead of taking this pill regularly. For instance, you can opt for a birth control pill or a condom.
No. It will not harm an established pregnancy.
No, as long as the female is at reproductive age.
She can resume immediately after taking the Levonorgestrel emergency pill or on the 6th day after taking the Ulipristal emergency pill, with extra protection (condom or abstain from intercourse) for 2 days if she is taking the progestogen-containing pill, or 7 days if she is taking the combined oral contraceptive pill.
There is drug-drug interaction in this case. Ulipristal and progestogen-containing contraceptive pills will compete for the progesterone receptor to bind with, therefore decrease the effectiveness of either drug.
Sadly to say, it is all about timing. The pill does not reverse ovulation, some call it destiny. Cu-IUD works best in this case.
No, the soon as you can.
No. Ovulation is delayed, but not stopped.
The emergency contraceptive pill is not an over-the-counter product. It can only be dispensed or prescribed by a healthcare professional. Correct use and counselling are important to ensure the effectiveness of this plan B.
A community pharmacist who aims to serve with passion, to spread the hope and happiness.