What is Emergency Contraception?
Emergency contraception is a birth control method that prevents pregnancy within the first 3 days after sex. However, it should not be used as regular birth control. Other birth control methods are much better at preventing pregnancy. It is best to talk to your doctor to decide which one is right for you.
In what situations should emergency contraception be used?
• You didn’t use birth control
• You were forced to have sex
• The condom broke or came off
• Your IUD comes out
• In cases of rape as Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP)
• Three or more consecutively missed combined oral contraceptive pills (depending on the brand you use)
• You use the natural family planning method and didn’t abstain from sex on the fertile days of your cycle
• You have reason to think your regular birth control might have failed
Methods of Emergency Contraception
There are two methods of emergency contraception:
1. Emergency Contraception Pills (ECP)
2. Copper-bearing intrauterine devices (IUDs).
Emergency Contraception Pills are sometimes called:
• The morning after pill
• The day after pill
• Postinor 2
• Plan B pill
The e-pill is most effective if it’s taken as soon as possible after you have had unprotected sex. Some health care providers recommend getting an emergency pill and keeping it at home just in case. However if taken 72 hours after sex, the e-pill can still work.
Is the e-pill an abortion pill?
The e-pill is not an abortion pill. If an egg is already fertilized, the e-pill cannot work. If you take the e-pill before ovulation, the e-pill tricks your body into thinking that ovulation has already happened, so it delays ovulation. It also thickens the mucus on your cervix, making it hard for sperm to get into the womb thus preventing pregnancy.
If you already are pregnant and take the e-pill, it will have no negative effects on your pregnancy.
It is more commonly known as the “morning after pill”. It is formulated to function in a manner similar to the female hormone progesterone, allowing for prevention of pregnancy if taken within a reasonable period of time.
• How Postinor-2 works:
o It delays or stops ovulation from taking place if taken as prescribed
o If ovulation has already taken place, Postinor-2 works by interfering with the passage of the sperm and the egg and makes it difficult for them to meet.
o It also alters the lining of the uterus and makes it inhabitable for the fertilized egg to implant itself there
It is recommended that Postinor-2 be taken no later than three days after having unprotected sex. However, it is more effective in cases where the treatment was started closer to the time of the sexual encounter.
• Dosage: 2 doses spaced out at 12 hour intervals
o It’s important to note that if regurgitation (vomiting) occurs within two hours of taking the first dose, it is vital to immediately take the second pill in the series and contact a physician for a replacement
o Should the second dosage not be administered on time, contact a physician and seek counsel on whether another round of treatment is needed
o A maximum of 3 packets of Postinor-2 should be taken in a year at an interval of four months
• Nausea and vomiting
• Virginal heavy bleeding
• Breast tenderness
• A sense of fatigue
NB: Generally, these effects will be mild and will fade within a few days. Any changes in menstrual bleeding, or increases in pain from the normal period should be reported to a doctor immediately.
Long term effects of abusing E Pills
• Ladies who use the emergency pill regularly in place of other methods of contraception increase their chances of getting pregnant
• May cause infertility and in some instances increase the risk of cancer if taken regularly in place of regular contraceptives
Intra-uterine device (IUD)
Another very effective method of emergency contraception is fitting a Copper-T IUD, also known as the “coil”. Actually, it’s the most effective form of emergency contraception. You need to see a doctor though to have it put in place and it can be a bit pricey. The Copper-T (Paragrad) has one potential additional advantage; it can stay in a woman’s body for up to 10 years afterwards as a normal and effective birth control method.
How the IUD works
The intrauterine device (IUD) is a small, T-shaped contraceptive device made from plastic and copper. A trained health professional inserts it into the uterus and it prevents an egg from implanting in your womb or being fertilised.
If you’ve had unprotected sex, the IUD can be inserted up to five days afterwards, to prevent pregnancy. It is more effective at preventing pregnancy than the emergency pill and it does not interrelate with any other medication.
If you need to see a counsellor, please do not hesitate to visit the DeKUT counselling center.