The morning after pill
If your condom breaks during intercourse, or you realise that you forgot to take the pill, then you could find yourself in need of some emergency contraception, giving rise to the morning after pill as a popular choice. Before rushing off to get it, here’s what you need to know about the morning-after pill.
What is the morning-after pill?
The morning after pill is a form of emergency contraception that’s used to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex. Some women may use it as an option after their normal method of contraception hasn’t worked out or after being sexually assaulted.
- The morning-after pill needs to be taken within 3-5 days after sex (depending on which you take).
- Be assured: the morning-after pill is notthe abortion pill. The former prevents pregnancy from occurring, where the latter terminates the pregnancy.
How the morning-after contraception pill works
There are two morning-after pill options.
One contains the hormone Levonorgestrel, which inhibits an egg being released during a menstrual cycle. It also changes the lining of the uterus (womb) to ensure the egg cannot attach itself.
The other uses an active ingredient, ulipristal acetate, which works by changing how the hormone progesterone works in your body.
Are there any side effects?
Like most other medication, it’s not impossible for morning after pills to have side effects, they tend to not be serious or long-term.
Some of the most common side effects that people experience after taking the morning after pill include:
- Nausea or vomiting. Please note that if you vomit within two hours of taking the pill, it won’t be effective, and you’ll need to take another one.
- Changes in your period. It may be earlier or later, or heavier or lighter than usual
- Breast tenderness, dizziness or headaches.
How often can I use emergency contraception?
Emergency contraception is safe to use, however, it’s generally not recommended as a regular birth control because they’re less effective at preventing pregnancy than other forms of contraception, such as the pill or condoms.
It’s crucial to remember that it does not protect against HIV/AIDS and STIs – condoms are the only form of contraception that prevents the transference of these diseases.
Source: Marie Stopes South Africa (Safe Abortion and Post Abortion Family Planning)
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