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Emergency Contraception – Types & Side Effects of Emergency contraception

What is emergency contraception (EC)?

types and side effects of Emergency contraception
Emergency contraception is a method you may use to avoid pregnancy after having unprotected sexual intercourse. You may also opt for it if the contraceptive or protection you use fails such as tearing of the condom. There are different types of emergency contraception, each used differently. In this article you will know about Types and side effects of Emergency contraception and also get complete details about Emergency contraception pills.


1.Emergency contraceptive pills

emergency contraceptive pill
These are also known as the morning-after pill. You may take the pill up to 3 days of unprotected sex. This is because sperm can stay in your body for up to 3-5 days. However, it does not mean that you should delay taking them. The sooner you take the pill; the more effective the results will be. In India, the most common contraceptive pill is levonorgestrel, which is easily available over the counter at any drug store. To prevent pregnancy, just one of these pills is sufficient.

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How Emergency contraception Pills works

Emergency contraceptive pills are taken orally. These pills contain a man-made variant of the hormone progesterone, known as levonorgestrel, which is otherwise produced by the ovaries. Depending on when you take the pill during your menstrual cycle, it may work in various ways. It may either delay or prevent ovulation or prevent the implantation of the fertilized egg in the uterus. It can reduce the chances of pregnancy from about 60-95%.
Please keep in mind that you should take the Emergency contraceptive pills only in emergencies and not as regular birth control.


2.Intra-Uterine Devices (IUD)

IUCD for Emergency contraceptive pills
Also known as the coil or intrauterine contraceptive device, IUD is a T-shaped birth control device. You can use an IUD up to 5 days after unprotected sex. It is a long-acting reversible birth control (LARC) and can last anywhere between 5-10 years. Fertility returns to normal when an IUD is removed even after a long time.

How it works

An IUD is put inside your uterus, which then releases copper. This copper prevents the implantation of an egg in your uterus or being fertilized.
It is the most effective method of emergency contraception. Less than 0.1% of the women who use IUD get pregnant. Unlike the pill, an IUD can be used as a long-term contraception method.

How does emergency contraception affect you?

When we think of contraception, we think it saved us an unwanted, unplanned pregnancy. However, like all medicines, it has side effects. After all, it is a chemical substance that untimely enters your body.
Though there are no long-term side effects. However, you might suffer from minor side effects that subside once the medicine is out of your system. Some of them are:
– Nausea
– Vomiting
– Tenderness of the breast
– Headaches
– Vaginal bleeding
– Tiredness
– Dizziness and fatigue
– Menstrual cycle irregularities- It can cause irregular periods or delay periods.

Efficacy of emergency contraception

Efficacy of emergency contraception is measured by the number of pregnancies a certain EC prevents. According to WHO, ECs can prevent up to 95% of pregnancies, provided it is taken within the stipulated time. IUD is the most efficient emergency contraception, with a pregnancy rate of less than 0.1%. IUDs can prevent most pregnancies

When you should take emergency contraception?

Emergency contraception pills and side effects of Emergency contraceptive
Emergency contraception is not regular contraception and should be avoided. However, certain situations may arise, which may require you to turn to emergency contraception.

1. After unprotected sex.
2. When there is a potential risk of failure of the contraception used in the first place.
• Incorrect use of contraception- slippage or breakage of the condom.
• Skipping of the 3 continuous doses of regular contraception.
3. Failed pull-out (ejaculation in the vagina).
4. In case of sexual assault.

Relieving the side effects

If you suffer from any of the side effects, you can consult a gynecologist who will prescribe an over-the-counter drug that will relieve the symptoms. However, some of these medications may worsen fatigue. In such cases, you should rest and take it easy for the next couple of days.
If you suffer from dizziness or nausea, immediately lie down as this will prevent you from throwing up. As the drug leaves your systems, these side effects subside, which is usually 3-4 days.


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Common misconceptions about emergency contraception


1. You should take the pill the morning after sexual intercourse:

Though you can take the pill up to 72 hours of having sex, it is recommended that you take the pill as soon as possible. As discussed above, the sooner you take the pill the more effective it is to prevent pregnancy.


2. It can cause abortion:

This is a myth. If you are already pregnant and you consume an EC, it does not terminate the pregnancy. The EC does not work the same way as an abortion pill.
An EC prevents pregnancy by delaying ovulation. If there is no egg, there are no chances of getting pregnant. On the other hand, an abortion pill terminates the pregnancy by thinning the lining of the uterus. This way, the embryo can no longer attach itself to the wall and is expelled from the body through contractions.


3. It will make you sick for sure:

While EC has side effects, it is not necessary that everyone who takes it will go through the same.


4. You can use an emergency contraceptive pill as long-term birth control:

Another very important misconception associated with EC is that it can be used as long-term birth control. The answer to this is a simple NO. The pills are not safe if you start using them on a regular basis. However, IUDs can be used for long term birth control.


5. Emergency contraception always works:

If you fail to take the contraceptive within the stipulated time frame, it is to likely prove ineffective. Thus, destroying the whole purpose of it. It is also sometimes ineffective on obese or over-weight women.


Though there is no evidence about limiting the number of times a woman should take EC, it is much safer than an unwanted pregnancy. However, women need to keep in mind that they are not as effective as your regular birth control. Though ECs are safe, it is also important that you consult your gynecologist. This is more important if you use them multiple times or face any side effects. This way you can avoid any serious implications, especially if you have some pre-existing health conditions. The below FAQs will help clear any other doubts you may have.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

While the article tries to explain most aspects of emergency contraception, here are some other question that you might have in terms of EC:

1. How often can I take emergency contraception?

They can be taken more than once in a menstrual cycle. However, it does not mean that you get dependent on it as regular contraception since they are not as effective and can pose side effects.


2. Are there any factors that might reduce the effectiveness of emergency contraception?

Being obese or overweight reduces the effectiveness of the pill. In such cases, IUD would be the preferred choice for emergency contraception.


3. How can I go back to using my regular birth control?

If you have taken an EC pill, you can restart your regular birth control immediately. However, you must use other protection like condoms for the next seven days. But in the case of IUD, you must wait for 5 days before going back to your regular birth control.


4. Will I need any medical follow-ups after using emergency contraception?

Usually, there is no need to go to your gynecologist after you take an EC. However, you should consult the doctor if you don’t get your period within a week of the expected date or face any side effects.


5. Does emergency contraception protect against Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI)?

No. ECs don’t protect you against STIs. If you think you are at the risk of contracting or have contracted an STI, you must visit your gynecologist.


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