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What a Physician Needs You to Know About Emergency Contraception


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

Lots of people assume emergency contraception (EC) is an abortion tablet, however that’s not the way it works. When you’re already pregnant and you employ it, it received’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.) When you don’t launch an egg, then sperm can’t fertilize it. That stops being pregnant. However what many ladies don’t understand is that there’s a nonhormonal EC possibility out there. It’s the Paragard copper IUD (intrauterine gadget). An IUD is a T-shaped gadget that’s put into your uterus by your cervix. Sperm don’t like copper, so that they don’t get previous Paragard to achieve and fertilize an egg.

The factor about EC is that the earlier you employ 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 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. When 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 couple of 5-day span. If it’s been longer than 5 days, they’re a lot much less prone to work.

Ella requires a prescription, and also you’ll want a physician to insert Paragard. However most EC is on the market 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, you need to ask a pharmacist for it.


It’s all the time a good suggestion to talk along 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 prone to work than Plan B. However whenever you name your physician’s workplace, ensure you inform them you’re calling about EC, so that they put you in contact along with your physician straight away.

That mentioned, 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 reveals that EC is secure for ladies of all ages. The one actual cause to not use it will be in case you’re already pregnant or in case you’ve had a unfavourable response to EC previously.

The commonest unwanted effects to hormonal EC are nausea and vomiting, whereas an IUD may cause cramping and bleeding. You would possibly really feel a bit of 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 typical, too, which could make you assume you’re pregnant. When you’re apprehensive, contemplate taking a pregnancy test. And belief your intestine: If one thing appears flawed, resembling 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, medical doctors do see sufferers who depend on EC to keep away from being pregnant as a result of they don’t wish to use, say, condoms. However you’re extra prone to get pregnant in case you depend on EC. Most EC is simply 75% efficient, whereas most contraception is nearer to 90% to 98% efficient.

Contraception tends to be cheaper than EC, too. The worth 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 wish to get pregnant, it’s best to have a dependable type of contraception that you just use constantly. Accidents occur, and emergency contraception is a good possibility 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; medical professor of obstetrics and gynecology, Columbia College Vagelos School of Physicians and Surgeons, New York Metropolis.

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