How Effective is the Morning-After Pill?

How Effective is the Morning-After Pill?

The morning-after pill is a method of emergency contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancy. The components of these pills are levonorgestrel and ulipristal. Emergency contraception is required after unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy. One should take the drug as soon as possible after unprotected sex to increase its effectiveness.

A few of the drugs contain two pills, one of which one should be taken immediately, while the other can be taken after 12 hours. Some of the brands have only one pill that needs to be taken as soon as possible. Although the label mentions that the pill can be taken any time up to five days after unprotected sex, it is more effective when taken at the earliest possible time. Most of these drugs prevent fertilization and implantation of the egg on the uterine wall. This is done by preventing the movement of the egg or by thinning the lining of uterine wall. These drugs are different from other drugs that are used after the implantation of the egg on to the uterine wall. These drugs are referred to as abortion pills.

One may chose to have emergency contraception for different reasons:

  • Has not used a birth control method
  • Missed a birth control pill
  • The intra-uterine device came out partially or completely
  • Is using drugs that interact with the contraceptive medications

How effective a morning-after pill seems to vary depends on the drug. In general, most of the emergency contraceptive pills are reported to have up to 75% success rates in preventing pregnancies. There are few drugs that are effective when combined with other birth control medications like estrogen and progestin.  The most important thing to remember is to have the pill as soon as possible after unprotected sex.

Many morning-after pills have several side effects, including:

  • Nausea – This is a very common side effect and in case you vomit within two hours of taking the drug, you may need to take another dose again.
  • Pregnancy – In some rare cases, it is still possible that the person may become pregnant even after using the drug. If the next period is delayed you may have to do a pregnancy test.
  • Fatigue
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Dizziness
  • Headache