If you want to know how to prevent pregnancy then it is important that you are aware of the different types of emergency contraceptive pills available for use (hormonal and non-hormonal) in order to avoid unwanted pregnancy find the protection that best suits your needs. An unplanned pregnancy can result in serious consequences to both the mother and her child if the woman is unprepared or not planning for one.
The emergency contraceptive pill has been hailed for its ability to prevent unwanted pregnancy, but it’s important to understand the health risks and side effects associated with this type of birth control before taking it.
What is emergency contraception and how to prevent a pregnancy with it?
Emergency contraception is a way to prevent pregnancy after an unprotected sex act or birth control failure. Emergency contraception can be obtained from many different healthcare providers, including drugstores. Serious side effects are rare but may include vomiting, nausea, dizziness, heavy menstrual flow, or pelvic pain. Follow up with your doctor as soon as possible if you have serious side effects after taking emergency contraception.
Emergency contraception is a way to prevent pregnancy after an unprotected sex act or birth control failure. Many types of birth control, like the pill or an IUD, are 92% to 99.9% effective. Emergency contraception is not as effective as these regular birth control methods. Emergency contraception can be used if you did not use any birth control or your method of birth control failed. An example would be an IUD falling out. Or a tear in the condom. Some methods of emergency contraception work by preventing a woman from ovulating. These include hormonal methods like Levonorgestrel. Other methods work by interfering with implantation of the fertilized ovum.
Levonorgestrel only regimen has been approved by the Drug Controller of India to be used as a “dedicated product” for emergency contraception. The pharmaceutical companies have been given permission to manufacture and market levonorgestrel (LNG) as a specially packaged two-pill pack, each pill containing 0.75 mg levonorgestrel. Currently this is available at a reasonable cost on medical prescription. Government of India has made the EC pill available free of cost throught its network of family welfare clinics.Source
When can I take emergency contraception?
Emergency contraception should be used within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse. ECPs can’t be used as regular forms of birth control, and they’re not meant to replace the other methods for preventing pregnancy such as condoms and birth control pills.
Unprotected sexual exposure may occur in the following circumstances necessitating the use of emergency contraception:
When there is a failure to use a contraceptive
- sexual activity was unplanned and accidental
- miscalculation of safe period failed coitus interruptus
When there is a contraceptive accident or misuse :
- condom break, dislodgement or improper withdrawal resulting in semen leakage diaphragm or cervical cap slips out of place
- contraceptive pills are forgotten on two or more consecutive days or there is delay in starting a pack by more than 2 days
- intra-uterine device is expelled or misplaced
- more than 2 weeks late for progestin-only contraceptive injection and more than 3 days late for combined estrogen-progestin injection
- failure of spermicidal tablet (today) to melt before intercourse
In case of an unprotected exposure
- sexual assault, rape or sexual coercion.
How effective is emergency contraception?
Studies have been inconsistent about the effectiveness of emergency contraception. However, it is likely that emergency contraception reduces the risk of pregnancy by 75%. Emergency contraception is not effective if a woman has already ovulated or had unprotected sex. Emergency contraception does not protect against STIs.
How does emergency contraception work?
Emergency contraception works by inhibiting or delaying ovulation, altering the survival mucosa, altering the endometrial leading to impair endometrial receptivity to implantation of fertilizing egg. Alternating the transportation of embryo, sperms & egg. The hormones in the pill delay the release of the egg to be fertilized, which prevents pregnancy. It does not reduce or end a woman’s menstrual flow and is unlikely to affect pregnancy once it has begun. Emergency contraception is less effective the sooner it is taken, so the longer you wait to take it, the more likely it will not work. The sooner you take the pill, the better, but it also depends on when in your cycle you took the pills.
Safety considerations for EC tablets
Emergency contraception pills, or EC pills, are oral pills that can be taken up to five days after unprotected intercourse. They work by preventing ovulation or fertilization of an egg. EC pills are not intended for long-term use. A woman should use a backup contraceptive method after taking EC pills if they are not certain that they will have no more sexual activity in the next week. The effectiveness of EC pills depends on the time of intake. They are most effective when taken within three days of unprotected intercourse.
Available brands of Levonorgestrel in India include i-Pill and Unwanted 72.
Possible side effects to emergency contraceptive pills
Generally, side effects to emergency contraceptive pills are mild and include nausea, vomiting, headache, and dizziness. However, it’s important to keep in mind that these side effects can be more severe for some people and include:
- vomiting blood,
- severe stomach pain or cramping,
- dizziness with fainting
- headache with sensitivity to light and noise ,
- swelling of the feet or hands,
- yellowing of the eyes or skin,
- severe pain in your calves
Though serious side effects are rare it is important to consult a doctor as soon as possible if you have serious side effects after taking emergency contraception.