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What a Physician Desires You to Know About Emergency Contraception

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By Scott G. Chudnoff, MD, as advised to Camille Noe Pagán

Lots of people suppose emergency contraception (EC) is an abortion tablet, however that’s not the way it works. In case you’re already pregnant and you employ it, it received’t finish your being pregnant. EC solely reduces your odds of getting pregnant for those who’ve had unprotected sex or your birth control failed you over the previous a number of days.

Most types of emergency contraception comprise hormones that cease your ovary from releasing an egg. (Some examples of hormonal ECs are Plan B, Plan B One-Step, Take Motion, and ella.) In case you don’t launch an egg, then sperm can’t fertilize it. That forestalls being pregnant. However what many ladies don’t notice is that there’s a nonhormonal EC possibility accessible. It’s the Paragard copper IUD (intrauterine machine). An IUD is a T-shaped machine that’s put into your uterus by your cervix. Sperm don’t like copper, in order that they don’t get previous Paragard to achieve and fertilize an egg.

The factor about EC is that the earlier you employ it, the higher it really works. That’s very true for those who’re near ovulation in your menstrual cycle. Most ladies aren’t precisely certain once they ovulate, which is one more reason why it’s finest to take emergency contraception as quickly as attainable after you’ve had unprotected intercourse. In case you do know you’ve simply ovulated or are about to, then ella and Paragard are simpler than different types of EC. Ella and Paragard are additionally simpler if it’s been greater than 3 days because you’ve had unprotected intercourse. However they actually work solely inside a couple of 5-day span. If it’s been longer than 5 days, they’re a lot much less prone to work.

Ella requires a prescription, and also you’ll want a physician to insert Paragard. However most EC is accessible over-the-counter. That doesn’t imply you’ll discover it sitting on the shelf on the pharmacy or grocery retailer, although. In lots of circumstances, it’s a must to ask a pharmacist for it.


It’s at all times a good suggestion to talk along with your physician earlier than taking a brand new medication, together with emergency contraception. They could have particular recommendation that may show you how to. For instance, for those who’re overweight or are tall with a big body, ella is extra prone to work than Plan B. However if you name your physician’s workplace, ensure you inform them you’re calling about EC, in order that they put you in contact along with your physician immediately.

That mentioned, for those who’re on trip or it’s a vacation or weekend and your physician isn’t accessible, don’t wait to take EC. The longer you wait, the upper your odds of getting pregnant. Plus, analysis exhibits that EC is secure for girls of all ages. The one actual purpose to not use it will be for those who’re already pregnant or for those who’ve had a destructive response to EC previously.

The commonest unintended effects to hormonal EC are nausea and vomiting, whereas an IUD may cause cramping and bleeding. You would possibly really feel slightly uncomfortable for a day or two after taking it. That’s regular. So is irregular menstrual bleeding afterward. Your subsequent interval is likely to be heavier or lighter than it usually is. It is likely to be later than typical, too, which could make you suppose you’re pregnant. In case you’re anxious, contemplate taking a pregnancy test. And belief your intestine: If one thing appears improper, reminiscent of actually heavy bleeding, name your physician or go to the emergency room.

Emergency contraception is for emergencies. It’s not a alternative for birth control. Sadly, docs do see sufferers who depend on EC to keep away from being pregnant as a result of they don’t wish to use, say, condoms. However you’re extra prone to get pregnant for those who depend on EC. Most EC is just 75% efficient, whereas most contraception is nearer to 90% to 98% efficient.

Contraception tends to be cheaper than EC, too. The value for EC can range, relying on the place you reside. Some over-the-counter EC can run as little as $10 a tablet. However different sorts can value as much as $90 per tablet. Most health insurance covers the total value of an IUD. The underside line is, for those who don’t wish to get pregnant, you must have a dependable type of contraception that you just use constantly. Accidents occur, and emergency contraception is a good possibility for these. But it surely’s not for on a regular basis use.



Scott G. Chudnoff, MD, chair, Division of OB/GYN, Stamford Hospital, Stamford, CT; medical professor of obstetrics and gynecology, Columbia College Vagelos Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons, New York Metropolis.

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