Morning-After Pill

1 What is a Morning-After Pill?

A type of emergency birth control pill or contraception is called the morning-after pill. To prevent pregnancy after her birth control method has failed or after a woman has had unprotected sex is the main goal for this contraceptive. This is not a primary method of birth control but is intended for backup contraception only.

Morning-after pills contain either levonorgestrel (Plan B One-Step) or ulipristal acetate (ella). Ulipristal is available only with a prescription from your doctor while plan B One-Step is available over-the-counter without a prescription.

2 Reasons for Procedure

Here are the most common reasons to use morning-after pill.

These pills can help you prevent pregnancy if you have unprotected sex whether you use missed a birth control, your method of birth control fails, you didn’t use birth control or you were sexually assaulted, but these pills do not end a pregnancy that has implanted.

This may act by one or more of the following actions such as blocking fertilization, keeping a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus or preventing or delaying ovulation.

Levonorgestrel doesn't keep a fertilized egg from implanting according to some studies. Mifepristone (Mifeprex) also known as RU-486 or the abortion pill is not the same as the morning-after pills.

3 Potential Risks

Along with taking morning-after pill comes potential risks. The morning-after pill is not recommended for routine use but just an emergency option for preventing pregnancy after unprotected sex.

This can also fail even if you use it correctly and it does not have protection against sexually transmitted infections.

Avoid morning-after pill if:

  • You are taking certain medications that may decrease the effectiveness of the morning-after pill, such as barbiturates or St. John's wort.
  • You know you're already pregnant.
  • You are obese or overweight.
  • You are allergic to any component of the morning-after pill.

Before using ulipristal, make sure that you are not pregnant because the effects of the use of this on your developing baby are unknown and also if you are breastfeeding. The treatment will simply be ineffective and won't harm the developing baby if you're already pregnant when you take levonorgestrel.

The side effects of the morning-after pill will only last a few days which include:

  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting or Nausea
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Lower abdominal cramps or pain
  • Bleeding between periods or heavier menstrual bleeding
  • Breast tenderness

4 Preparing for your Procedure

In preparing for your morning-after pill, you must follow your doctor’s orders. 

This pill should be started as soon as possible after the unprotected sex or within 120 hours for maximum effectiveness. You can also take this during your menstrual cycle.

5 What to Expect

Here you can find out what to expect from your morning-after pill.

To use the morning-after pill:

  • Follow all the instructions. If you are going to use ella, take one ella pill as soon as possible and less than 120 hours after unprotected sex and if you are going to use Plan B One-Step, take one Plan B One-Step pill as soon as possible and less than 72 hours after unprotected sex.
  • Call your doctor if you vomit within two hours after taking the morning-after pill.
  • Avoid having sex until you start another method of birth control because the morning-after pill doesn't offer lasting protection from pregnancy. If you have unprotected sex in the days and weeks after taking the morning-after pill, you're at risk of becoming pregnant.

Using the morning-after pill may delay your period by up to one week. Take a pregnancy test if you don't get your period within three to four weeks of taking the morning-after pill.

If you experienced bleeding or spotting that lasts longer than a week or develop severe lower abdominal pain three to five weeks after taking the morning-after pill, consult your doctor as soon as possible. These may be signs or symptoms of a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy.

6 Procedure Results

If you do not understand your morning-after pill results, consult with your doctor.

The morning after pill can reduce the risk of pregnancy but this is not used as the main form of birth control and also it will not protect you from sexually transmitted diseases.