Morning after pills, also known as “day after pills” are a form of emergency contraceptive. These pills are taken by women after they have unprotected sex, in order to avoid pregnancy. These pills are classified as either progestin-only pills such as “Take Action”, “Next Choice One Dose”, combined contraceptive pills including both estrogen and progestin, or ulipristal acetate (Ella). While these pills do not have any serious or long-term side effects, there are still some side effects documented by health professionals.

Mechanism of Action

Emergency contraceptive works in two directions depending on when you take them. If you take them before the ovulation period of your menstrual cycle, the contraceptives delay and prevent ovulation in order to stop pregnancy. If you take the tablet after your ovulation period, the contraceptive works by interfering with egg fertilization.

Effectiveness of Morning-After Pill

If you have unprotected sex, and you take a morning-after pill within 72 hours, the risk of pregnancy can be reduced up to 90%. Just because emergency contraceptives are termed as “morning after pills”, does not mean you should take them the next morning. You need to take the contraceptive as soon as possible. If you take the pill within the first 24 hours, the effectiveness goes all the way up to 95%.

Common Side Effects

Common side effects of emergency contraceptives include queasiness and vomiting. Many women throw up immediately after ingesting emergency pills. Some women complain of a headache, dizziness or fatigue. Others complain about pain in the lower abdomen. Some women complain about breast soreness, while others complain about unexpected bleeding. Emergency contraceptives also alter the period cycle and some women might experience an early or delayed period.

Comparing Side Effects in Different Formulas

Some studies have been carried out that compare the side effects of progestin-only pills with ulipristal acetate. Ella, an ulipristal acetate, and Levonelle, a synthetic progestin called levonorgestrel, have been tested in a group of women and resulted in similar side effects. 20% of the group study reported headaches, 14% reported increased menstrual pain while 12% reported nausea. While the duration was not affected, women who took Ella complained of period delay, while women who took Levonelle complained of early period.

Dealing with the Side Effects

Since the side effects of emergency contraceptives are not severe, they can be handled with a secondary medicine. For nausea, you can take an anti-nausea tablet, for headache, you can take a paracetamol and so forth. If the secondary medicines are taken an hour before the emergency contraceptive, they can reduce the side effect occurrence by 65%. However, you may feel drowsier, as two medicines will work their way into the system. Some health professionals recommend that if you throw up the first time, you should take another dosage just in case.

 Is Emergency Contraceptive Same as Abortion Pill?

No. Emergency contraceptives are not the same as abortion pills. While it may stop the pregnancy from happening, it cannot work if the user is already pregnant. Taking emergency contraceptive after pregnancy does not cause abortion or miscarriage. You will need to seek out your health professional in that case.

Can I Use Emergency Contraceptive Instead of Normal Birth Control?

Emergency contraceptive is termed as “emergency” for a reason. These pills should not be used as a regular contraceptive method. Whether it is Levonelle or Ella One, these pills are not as effective as regular birth control and should only be used as a backup plan. These pills do not protect you from sexually transmitted infections and diseases.

All medicines carry side effects, which become more prominent when the medicine is not taken properly. If you are worried about the side effects, you should consult with your health professional to check if you have any allergies or problems with your choice of medicine.

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