Home Health What a Physician Needs You to Know About Emergency Contraception

What a Physician Needs You to Know About Emergency Contraception


By Scott G. Chudnoff, MD, as instructed to Camille Noe Pagán

Lots of people assume emergency contraception (EC) is an abortion tablet, however that’s not the way it works. If you happen to’re already pregnant and you employ it, it gained’t finish your being pregnant. EC solely reduces your odds of getting pregnant in case you’ve had unprotected sex or your birth control failed you over the previous a number of days.

Most types of emergency contraception include hormones that cease your ovary from releasing an egg. (Some examples of hormonal ECs are Plan B, Plan B One-Step, Take Motion, and ella.) If you happen to don’t launch an egg, then sperm can’t fertilize it. That stops being pregnant. However what many ladies don’t understand is that there’s a nonhormonal EC choice obtainable. It’s the Paragard copper IUD (intrauterine machine). An IUD is a T-shaped machine that’s put into your uterus by way of your cervix. Sperm don’t like copper, in order that they don’t get previous Paragard to achieve and fertilize an egg.

The factor about EC is that the earlier you employ it, the higher it really works. That’s very true in case you’re near ovulation in your menstrual cycle. Most girls aren’t precisely certain once they ovulate, which is another excuse why it’s greatest to take emergency contraception as quickly as attainable after you’ve had unprotected intercourse. If you happen to do know you’ve simply ovulated or are about to, then ella and Paragard are simpler than different types of EC. Ella and Paragard are additionally simpler if it’s been greater than 3 days because you’ve had unprotected intercourse. However they actually work solely inside a few 5-day span. If it’s been longer than 5 days, they’re a lot much less more likely to work.

Ella requires a prescription, and also you’ll want a physician to insert Paragard. However most EC is out there over-the-counter. That doesn’t imply you’ll discover it sitting on the shelf on the pharmacy or grocery retailer, although. In lots of instances, you must ask a pharmacist for it.


It’s at all times a good suggestion to talk together with your physician earlier than taking a brand new medication, together with emergency contraception. They may have particular recommendation that may enable you. For instance, in case you’re overweight or are tall with a big body, ella is extra more likely to work than Plan B. However while you name your physician’s workplace, ensure you inform them you’re calling about EC, in order that they put you in contact together with your physician straight away.

That stated, in case you’re on trip or it’s a vacation or weekend and your physician isn’t obtainable, don’t wait to take EC. The longer you wait, the upper your odds of getting pregnant. Plus, analysis exhibits that EC is secure for girls of all ages. The one actual cause to not use it might be in case you’re already pregnant or in case you’ve had a destructive response to EC previously.

The most typical negative effects to hormonal EC are nausea and vomiting, whereas an IUD could cause cramping and bleeding. You would possibly really feel a bit of uncomfortable for a day or two after taking it. That’s regular. So is irregular menstrual bleeding afterward. Your subsequent interval could be heavier or lighter than it usually is. It could be later than standard, too, which could make you assume you’re pregnant. If you happen to’re anxious, think about taking a pregnancy test. And belief your intestine: If one thing appears mistaken, corresponding to actually heavy bleeding, name your physician or go to the emergency room.

Emergency contraception is for emergencies. It’s not a substitute for birth control. Sadly, docs do see sufferers who depend on EC to keep away from being pregnant as a result of they don’t need to use, say, condoms. However you’re extra more likely to get pregnant in case you depend on EC. Most EC is simply 75% efficient, whereas most contraception is nearer to 90% to 98% efficient.

Contraception tends to be cheaper than EC, too. The worth for EC can differ, relying on the place you reside. Some over-the-counter EC can run as little as $10 a tablet. However different sorts can price as much as $90 per tablet. Most health insurance covers the complete price of an IUD. The underside line is, in case you don’t need to get pregnant, it is best to have a dependable type of contraception that you just use constantly. Accidents occur, and emergency contraception is a superb choice for these. However it’s not for on a regular basis use.



Scott G. Chudnoff, MD, chair, Division of OB/GYN, Stamford Hospital, Stamford, CT; medical professor of obstetrics and gynecology, Columbia College Vagelos Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons, New York Metropolis.

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