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What a Physician Desires You to Know About Emergency Contraception


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

Lots of people suppose emergency contraception (EC) is an abortion tablet, however that’s not the way it works. In case you’re already pregnant and you utilize 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 comprise 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 case you don’t launch an egg, then sperm can’t fertilize it. That forestalls being pregnant. However what many ladies don’t notice is that there’s a nonhormonal EC possibility out there. It’s the Paragard copper IUD (intrauterine machine). An IUD is a T-shaped machine that’s put into your uterus by means of your cervix. Sperm don’t like copper, so that they don’t get previous Paragard to succeed in and fertilize an egg.

The factor about EC is that the earlier you utilize 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 positive once they ovulate, which is one more reason why it’s greatest to take emergency contraception as quickly as attainable after you’ve had unprotected intercourse. In case 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 accessible 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, it’s important to ask a pharmacist for it.


It’s all the time 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 assist 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, so that they put you in contact together with your physician immediately.

That stated, in case you’re on trip or it’s a vacation or weekend and your physician isn’t out there, 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 ladies of all ages. The one actual motive to not use it could be in case you’re already pregnant or in case you’ve had a adverse response to EC up to now.

The commonest unwanted effects to hormonal EC are nausea and vomiting, whereas an IUD may cause cramping and bleeding. You would possibly really feel somewhat uncomfortable for a day or two after taking it. That’s regular. So is irregular menstrual bleeding afterward. Your subsequent interval is likely to be heavier or lighter than it usually is. It is likely to be later than standard, too, which could make you suppose you’re pregnant. In case you’re nervous, take into account taking a pregnancy test. And belief your intestine: If one thing appears flawed, corresponding to actually heavy bleeding, name your physician or go to the emergency room.

Emergency contraception is for emergencies. It’s not a alternative 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 just 75% efficient, whereas most contraception is nearer to 90% to 98% efficient.

Contraception tends to be cheaper than EC, too. The value for EC can fluctuate, relying on the place you reside. Some over-the-counter EC can run as little as $10 a tablet. However different varieties can value as much as $90 per tablet. Most health insurance covers the complete value 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 persistently. Accidents occur, and emergency contraception is a superb possibility for these. But it surely’s not for on a regular basis use.



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

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