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 advised to Camille Noe Pagán

Lots of people suppose emergency contraception (EC) is an abortion capsule, 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 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.) If you happen to don’t launch an egg, then sperm can’t fertilize it. That forestalls 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 system). An IUD is a T-shaped system that’s put into your uterus via your cervix. Sperm don’t like copper, in order that they don’t get previous Paragard to succeed in and fertilize an egg.

The factor about EC is that the earlier you employ it, the higher it really works. That’s very true should you’re near ovulation in your menstrual cycle. Most girls aren’t precisely positive after they ovulate, which is another excuse why it’s finest to take emergency contraception as quickly as doable 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 more practical than different types of EC. Ella and Paragard are additionally more practical if it’s been greater than 3 days because you’ve had unprotected intercourse. However they actually work solely inside a couple of 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 obtainable 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 a must to ask a pharmacist for it.


It’s at all times a good suggestion to talk along with your physician earlier than taking a brand new medication, together with emergency contraception. They could have particular recommendation that may allow 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 once you name your physician’s workplace, ensure you inform them you’re calling about EC, in order that they put you in contact along with your physician immediately.

That mentioned, 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 ladies of all ages. The one actual cause to not use it could be should you’re already pregnant or should you’ve had a unfavourable response to EC up to now.

The most typical unwanted side effects to hormonal EC are nausea and vomiting, whereas an IUD may cause cramping and bleeding. You would possibly 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 could be heavier or lighter than it usually is. It could be later than common, too, which could make you suppose you’re pregnant. If you happen to’re frightened, contemplate taking a pregnancy test. And belief your intestine: If one thing appears improper, similar 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 should you depend on EC. Most EC is just 75% efficient, whereas most contraception is nearer to 90% to 98% efficient.

Contraception tends to be inexpensive than EC, too. The value for EC can differ, relying on the place you reside. Some over-the-counter EC can run as little as $10 a capsule. However different varieties can price as much as $90 per capsule. Most health insurance covers the total price of an IUD. The underside line is, should 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 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; scientific professor of obstetrics and gynecology, Columbia College Vagelos School of Physicians and Surgeons, New York Metropolis.

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