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

Lots of people suppose emergency contraception (EC) is an abortion tablet, however that’s not the way it works. In the event you’re already pregnant and you utilize it, it received’t finish your being pregnant. EC solely reduces your odds of getting pregnant should 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.) In the event you 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 possibility obtainable. It’s the Paragard copper IUD (intrauterine system). An IUD is a T-shaped system that’s put into your uterus by 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 utilize it, the higher it really works. That’s very true should you’re near ovulation in your menstrual cycle. Most ladies aren’t precisely certain after they ovulate, which is one more reason why it’s greatest to take emergency contraception as quickly as doable after you’ve had unprotected intercourse. In the event you 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 health care provider 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 circumstances, you need to ask a pharmacist for it.


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

That stated, should 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 protected for girls of all ages. The one actual purpose to not use it could be should you’re already pregnant or should you’ve had a unfavourable response to EC prior to now.

The most typical unwanted side effects to hormonal EC are nausea and vomiting, whereas an IUD may cause cramping and bleeding. You may really feel a bit uncomfortable for a day or two after taking it. That’s regular. So is irregular menstrual bleeding afterward. Your subsequent interval is perhaps heavier or lighter than it usually is. It is perhaps later than regular, too, which could make you suppose you’re pregnant. In the event you’re apprehensive, contemplate taking a pregnancy test. And belief your intestine: If one thing appears flawed, akin 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, medical doctors 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 should you depend on EC. Most EC is barely 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 range, relying on the place you reside. Some over-the-counter EC can run as little as $10 a tablet. However different sorts can value as much as $90 per tablet. Most health insurance covers the complete value of an IUD. The underside line is, should you don’t need to get pregnant, you must have a dependable type of contraception that you just use persistently. Accidents occur, and emergency contraception is a superb possibility 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 School of Physicians and Surgeons, New York Metropolis.

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