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What Is the Morning After Pill?

Updated on May 29, 2013

The Morning After Pill

The morning after pill is a form of birth control which can be taken in an emergency situation after unprotected sexual intercourse.

If your method of birth control has failed, such as a burst condom, you forget to take your birth control pill or if in the heat of the moment you had unprotected sex, the morning after pill is an option to consider to avoid getting pregnant.

Although called the morning after pill it can be taken up to 3 days and in some cases 5 days after the deed has taken place to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.

It is important to note though that the morning after pill is not an alternative to safe sex and it will not prevent you from contacting STD's.

The Morning After Pill

The morning after pill may prevent unwanted pregnancy but it will not protect you from STD's
The morning after pill may prevent unwanted pregnancy but it will not protect you from STD's | Source

How does The Morning After Pill Work

Because sperm has to travel through the fallopian tubes to reach the egg, conception can take a few days after intercourse.

How the morning after pill works depends on where the female is in her menstrual cycle, the pill either prevents or delays ovulation, blocks fertilisation or stops a fertilised egg from implanting in the uterus.

The morning after pill is not an abortion drug, if you are already pregnant the morning after pill will not terminate an already growing embryo.

Morning After Pill - Emergency Contraception

When Should I Take The Morning After Pill?

The morning after pill is not 100% effective and in some rare cases it does not prevent pregnancy, the success rate of the pill is more effective if it is taken within the first 24 hours after intercourse.

If taken within 24 hours, the morning after pill has a 95% success rate after 24 hours and up to 72 hours the pill is less effective with a 85% rate of success.

Taking the morning after pill as soon as possible after unprotected intercourse increases the chances of a successful outcome.

Preventing Pregnancy

The morning after pill can be effective in stopping unwanted pregnancy.
The morning after pill can be effective in stopping unwanted pregnancy. | Source

Birth Control Pills

Morning after pills are not a replacement for your normal method of birth control
Morning after pills are not a replacement for your normal method of birth control | Source

Plan B and Plan B One-Step

Plan B

Plan B was approved by the FDA in 1999 and contains Levonorgestrel, a progestin that has been used in birth control pills since the 1960's. The levels of progestin in Plan B are much higher than in those of the contraceptive pill.

Plan B is a course of 2 pills which should be taken 12 hours apart.

Plan B One-Step

Plan B One-Step was approved by the FDA in 2009 and has double the level of Levonorgestrel that the original Plan B, because of the higer level of progestin Plan B One-Step is taken in a single dose without the need for another after 12 hours.

Plan B is now in short supply since the advent of Plan B One-Step.

Although most women who have used Plan B or One-Step have had no adverse reaction to the drug there are some side effects associated with taking it.

Side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Dizzyness
  • Breast tenderness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Some women have reported irregular menstrual bleeding which usualy gets back to normal in around 30days.

Next Choice

Next Choice was approved by the FDA in 2009 and it contains the same amounts of Levonorgestrel as Plan B One-Step and works in the same way.

The side effects of taking Next Choice are as stated above.

Plan B, One-Step and Next Choice are the only brand name morning after pills that have been Approved by the American Food and Drug Administration. If you are 17 years of age or over they are available over the counter without prescription in most pharmacies.

However if you are under 17 years old then you will need a prescription from your doctor.

Pregnancy

The morning after pill will not have any effect if you are already pregnant.
The morning after pill will not have any effect if you are already pregnant. | Source

Ella

Ella was approved by the FDA in 2010 and contains a progesterone called agonist/antagonist, which delays ovulation for five days, Ella can be taken up to 5 days after intercourse and still be effective.

Ella is a one dose pill and although it is advised to take it as soon as possible after intercourse, you can wait up to five days afterwards.

Although Ella is safe and a majority of women have taken it with no adverse effect there are some side effects that are associated with taking the drug.

Side Effects Include:

  • Headache
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Menstrual pain
  • Tiredness
  • Dizzyness

Ella is only available on prescription from a medical professional.

Emergency Contraception

The morning after pill is an emergency contraception and not an abortion drug, it will not abort a growing embryo.

The morning after pill should only be taken once during a menstrual cycle and not as a regular method of birth control.

Unprotected intercourse carries the risk of STDs, the morning after pill will not help to prevent them.


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    • online4wealth profile image

      Nosa Stephen 

      5 years ago from Lagos, Nigeria, West Africa.

      Nice information

    • rcrumple profile image

      Rich 

      5 years ago from Kentucky

      My morning after pill has always bee either aspirin or tylenol. But then, I'm not in the mix so why worry. You wrote an extremely informative article for those that are, though. Great Job!

    • Gordon Hamilton profile image

      Gordon Hamilton 

      5 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

      Jimmy, when I saw the title of this Hub (don't laugh!) I thought it was something to do with hangovers. I can see I'm definitely out of touch with the world, in many respects. I am so glad I read the page, however, and didn't go simply by the title - I have this horrible vision of me going in to a chemist's shop and asking for the morning after pill. Asked if it is for my wife or girlfriend, I (confused) reveal that it's for me... Now, that would have been embarrassing!

      Very valuable information for a lot of people, I'm sure.

    • jimmythejock profile imageAUTHOR

      James Paterson 

      5 years ago from Scotland

      lol Rather this than 10 million single mothers struggling to get by on a daily basis.....jimmy

    • Brainy Bunny profile image

      Brainy Bunny 

      5 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      This is such important information -- thank you for writing a well-researched hub that gives the facts. Voted up and useful!

    • SweetiePie profile image

      SweetiePie 

      5 years ago from Southern California, USA

      Oh no, you are provided accurate information about the morning after pill. I am afraid some conservatives here in the US are going to be mad at you now.

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