Table of contents:
- How it works
- How to take the morning-after pill
- When to take
- Possible side effects
- When not indicated
- 13 common questions about the morning-after pill
2023 Author: Benjamin Dyson | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-21 01:37
The morning after pill is an emergency contraceptive that can be used after unprotected sex or when the usual contraceptive method has failed, such as when a condom breaks or the contraceptive pill is forgotten.
The morning after pill can be made up of levonorgestrel or ulipristal acetate, which work by delaying or inhibiting ovulation. Pills containing levonorgestrel should be used up to 3 days after intercourse, while pills containing ulipristal acetate can be used up to 5 days after unprotected intercourse.
However, as the effectiveness of the pill decreases as the days go by, it is advised to take the morning-after pill as soon as possible. The morning after pill can be purchased at pharmacies and does not require a prescription.
How it works
The morning after pill works by inhibiting or delaying the occurrence of ovulation, reducing the chance of sperm fertilization and the occurrence of pregnancy, provided that it is taken in the first phase of the menstrual cycle.
In addition, the morning-after pill, when taken in the second phase of the menstrual cycle, which corresponds to the ovulatory phase, acts by altering the mobility of the sperm and egg in the fallopian tube, reducing the risk of fertilization and subsequent implantation in the uterus. This pill can also change the cervical mucus, which interferes with the migration of sperm to the fallopian tube, making contact between the sperm and the egg more difficult.
Nevertheless, the morning-after pill has no effect after implantation of the fertilized egg in the uterus, which means that if taken too long after intercourse, it may not have the desired effect.
How to take the morning-after pill
It is recommended that the morning after pill be taken as soon as possible, preferably within 12 hours or no later than 72 hours after unprotected intercourse. The morning after pill can be taken on any day of the menstrual cycle, except when menstruation is late, and can be taken with water or with food.
In case of vomiting or diarrhea within 3 hours of taking the morning after pill, it is important that another pill is taken immediately. If you are using birth control pills, it is not necessary to stop using them.
After using the morning-after pill, it is recommended to use a condom or diaphragm until the next period begins.
When to take
The morning after pill should be used in emergency cases, whenever there is a risk of an unwanted pregnancy, and is recommended in the following situations:
- Sexual intercourse without a condom or condom breakage. Check out other precautions to be taken when having sex without a condom;
- Forgetting to take your regular contraceptive pill, especially if you missed it more than 1 time on the same pack. Also check out the care after forgetting to take the contraceptive;
- IUD expulsion;
- Displacement or removal of the vaginal diaphragm prematurely;
- Cases of sexual violence.
To prevent pregnancy, the morning-after pill should be taken as soon as possible, after unprotected intimate contact or failure of the contraceptive method used regularly.
Possible side effects
After using the morning-after pill, a woman may experience headache, nausea and tiredness, and after a few days she may also experience other symptoms such as:
- Pain in the breasts;
- Abdominal pain;
- Small vaginal bleeding that is not related to menstruation;
- Delay of menstruation, which can appear 5 to 7 days after the expected date. If your next period is more than 5 days late, it is important to take a pregnancy test.
These symptoms are related to the side effects of the medication and it is normal for menstruation to be irregular for some time. The ideal is to observe these changes and, if possible, write down the characteristics of menstruation in your diary or cell phone, so that you can show the gynecologist in a consultation. Learn more about the side effects of the morning after pill.
When not indicated
The morning after pill should not be taken by pregnant or suspected pregnant women, nor by women who are breastfeeding. It is also important to be careful who takes Efavirenz, which is a drug capable of reducing the effectiveness of the pill by up to 50%.
In addition, there are other drugs that can reduce the effectiveness of the pill and that is why the pill should not be taken when the woman is being treated with these drugs, such as barbiturates, phenytoin, carbamazepine, rifampicin, ritonavir, rifabutin and griseofulvin.
13 common questions about the morning-after pill
The most common questions about the morning-after pill are:
1. How do you know if the morning after pill worked?
To know if the morning-after pill has worked, menstruation must begin on the expected date, with a delay of no more than 7 days. If this does not happen, it is recommended to perform a pregnancy, pharmacy or blood test, to rule out a possible pregnancy and confirm that the delay in menstruation is due to a side effect of the morning-after pill.
2. Can I get pregnant while taking the morning after pill?
Although it is indicated to prevent unwanted pregnancy, the morning-after pill is not 100% effective if taken within 72 hours of intercourse. But when it is taken on the same day, it is unlikely that the woman will become pregnant, however, this possibility exists.
The most sensible thing is to wait a few days until menstruation comes, and in case of delay you can take a pregnancy test that you can buy at the pharmacy.
3. When does menstruation come after taking the pill?
One of the common side effects of the morning-after pill is delaying menstruation, which may start 5-7 days after the expected date.
4. How effective is the morning after pill?
According to a study developed in 2011, a single dose of 1.5 milligrams of levonorgestrel, taken within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse, prevents about 84% of pregnancies.
5. What happens if 2 or 3 morning-after pills are taken in 1 month?
If more than one morning-after pill is taken in a month, its contraceptive effect may be lost. In addition, it is important to note that this pill should only be used sporadically, or at most once a month, as it contains a very high dose of hormones, which can cause irregularities in the menstrual cycle and, therefore, is only indicated for situations emergency and not as a frequent contraceptive method.
If used more than twice a month, the morning-after pill can increase the risk of developing diseases such as thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, breast cancer and uterine cancer.
6. What are the side effects of the morning after pill on menstruation?
One of the side effects of the morning after pill is a change in menstruation. So, after taking the pill, menstruation can occur up to 10 days before or after the expected date, but in most cases, menstruation occurs on the expected date with a variation of about 3 days more or less. However, if the delay persists, you can take a pregnancy test.
7. Does the morning after pill work during your fertile period?
The morning after pill is effective every day of the month, however, this effect may be less during the fertile period, especially if ovulation has already occurred before taking the pill.
This happens because the morning-after pill works by inhibiting or delaying ovulation, and if it has already occurred, the pill will no longer have this effect. However, the morning-after pill also makes it difficult for the egg and sperm to pass through the fallopian tubes and makes it difficult for the sperm to penetrate the cervical mucus, which in some cases can prevent pregnancy by this mechanism.
The morning after pill is only effective if ovulation has not occurred during the first few days of the fertile period. If ovulation has already occurred and there is intimate contact, pregnancy is very likely.
See the following video on how to calculate the fertile day:
8. What happens if after using the morning-after pill there is unprotected sex?
If a person has taken the morning-after pill as an emergency contraceptive method and the next day has unprotected sex again, there is a risk of becoming pregnant. This is due to the fact that this pill does not work as a normal contraceptive method, what it does is inhibit or delay ovulation, which may have occurred after using the pill.
The ideal thing is that the woman talks to her gynecologist and starts taking a contraceptive. See the precautions to be taken if you have intimate contact without a condom.
9. Are there any consequences of taking the morning after pill during menstruation?
To date, no consequences of using the morning-after pill during menstruation have been recorded.
10. Does the morning after pill miscarry? How does it work?
The morning after pill does not abort because it can work in different ways, depending on the phase of the menstrual cycle in which it is used, and can:
- Inhibit or delay ovulation, which prevents fertilization of the egg by the sperm;
- Increase the viscosity of vaginal mucus, making it difficult for sperm to reach the egg.
So, if ovulation has already occurred or if the egg has already been fertilized, the pill does not prevent pregnancy from developing.
11. Does the morning after pill cause infertility?
There is no scientific evidence that sporadic use of this pill can cause infertility, fetal malformation or ectopic pregnancy.
12. Does the morning after pill change the way contraceptives work?
No, so the contraceptive pill must continue to be taken regularly, at the usual time, until the end of the pack. After the end of the pack, you should wait for the start of menstruation and, if menstruation does not occur, it is recommended to consult the gynecologist.
13. If the morning-after pill is taken during pregnancy, is there any risk to the fetus?
There are no reports that the morning-after pill has teratogenic effects if taken during the first trimester of pregnancy, ie it affects the development and growth of the fetus.
Similarly, it happens if the morning-after pill fails and a pregnancy occurs, as it was taken long before the fetus began to develop, which is the stage when it is most vulnerable.