So you’ve been to a party, you have met a very good looking guy and you’ve had one drink too many. One thing leads to another….then you wake up the next morning wondering what on earth you have done!
This has happened and will happen to many more women. Don’t panic, there are a number of ways of preventing unwanted pregnancy, even after the act!
The reason you are looking for emergency contraception is most likely that you are not using any other contraception or because the condom broke. You may already be taking hormonal contraception but you may still be at risk of pregnancy because:
We are going to explore all the options which are open to you.
Although there are a number of options available in each category, there are two types of emergency contraception:
Contrary to the belief held by some people, the morning after pill is not an abortion pill. The difference is that the morning after pill prevents a fertilised egg from implanting in the uterus and so a pregnancy never exists. An abortion pill acts to terminate a pregnancy where the fertilised egg has already implanted.
The active ingredient found in Leonelle is levonorgestrel; this is a synthetic hormone which is a man made version of progesterone which is a natural hormone produced in the ovaries. The action of this synthetic hormone is to prevent or at least delay ovulation (when an egg is released)
Levonelle must be taken within 72 hours (three days) of having sexual intercourse in order to be effective.
The active ingredient in ellaOne is ulipristal acetate which interferes with the normal action of progesterone. In doing this it prevents or delays the release of an egg during ovulation.
The advantage of ellaOne is that to be effective it has a longer period of efficacy and can be taken within 120 hours (5 days) of having sex.
It is important to remember that neither Levonelle nor ellaOne continue to protect you from becoming pregnant and if you have unprotected sex again then you can still become pregnant.
They are exactly as described, emergency contraception and are not designed to be used as a regular form of contraception. However, it is important to know that if you need to, you can use the morning after pill more than once in a menstrual cycle.
Most women can use the morning after pill. There are a number of reasons however that this may not be suitable and they include:
ellaOne cannot be used at all in conjunction with any of this medication as it will not work; Levonelle can still be effective but the dose may need to be increased.
If you are unsure it is important that you seek the advice of your GP or pharmacist who will be able to advise you.
If you are breastfeeding then Levonelle may still be used. A small amount of the medication may pass into the breast milk but it is not thought to cause any harm to your child. It is not known if ellaOne is safe during breastfeeding and so does not recommend breastfeeding within one week of taking the pill.
Any side effects tend not to be serious nor are they long lasting. However, side effects it may cause include:
If your symptoms have not gone after a few days you may need to seek medical attention or if:
If you feel that unprotected sex may occur in the future then it may be possible to keep a dose in stock but speak to your healthcare professional first.
The IUD is a small, T-shaped copper and plastic device that is inserted into the uterus by a doctor or nurse. It releases copper to prevent a fertilised egg from implanting into the wall of the uterus.
The IUD can be inserted for up to five days after sexual intercourse or up to five days after the earliest time that that ovulation could have occurred. It is more effective at preventing pregnancy than using the morning after pill.
The IUD is a suitable form of emergency contraception for most women. Your healthcare professional will take a medical history from you to check whether an IUD is suitable for you. Reasons why the IUD may not be suitable include:
It is safe to use the IUD as emergency contraception if you are breastfeeding but not if there is any chance that you are pregnant.
Complications of having an IUD fitted are rare but may include:
Emergency contraception can be obtained free of charge in the following places:
Provided you are aged sixteen years and over you can buy the morning after pill from most pharmacies, online and from some organisations such as British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS).
In order to avoid the necessity to seek emergency contraception, it would be advisable to protect yourself from unwanted pregnancy in advance.
Very popular methods that do not necessarily involve taking a pill daily include:
If you are unsure then medical assistance is freely available at any of the laces listed in the ‘availability’ section.
If you are under sixteen years old, contraceptive services are free and confidential. Provided the healthcare provider is satisfied that you fully understand all the implications of the decisions you are making, they will not tell your parents or guardian about the consultation.