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What a Physician Desires You to Know About Emergency Contraception


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

Lots of people suppose emergency contraception (EC) is an abortion tablet, however that’s not the way it works. If you happen to’re already pregnant and you utilize it, it gained’t finish your being pregnant. EC solely reduces your odds of getting pregnant for those who’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.) If you happen to don’t launch an egg, then sperm can’t fertilize it. That stops being pregnant. However what many ladies don’t notice is that there’s a nonhormonal EC choice accessible. It’s the Paragard copper IUD (intrauterine gadget). An IUD is a T-shaped gadget that’s put into your uterus by means of your cervix. Sperm don’t like copper, in order that they don’t get previous Paragard to achieve and fertilize an egg.

The factor about EC is that the earlier you utilize it, the higher it really works. That’s very true for those who’re near ovulation in your menstrual cycle. Most girls aren’t precisely positive once they ovulate, which is another excuse why it’s finest to take emergency contraception as quickly as attainable 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 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 more likely to work.

Ella requires a prescription, and also you’ll want a health care provider 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 instances, it’s a must to ask a pharmacist for it.


It’s at all times 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 provide help to. For instance, for those who’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, in order that they put you in contact together with your physician instantly.

That mentioned, for those who’re on trip or it’s a vacation or weekend and your physician isn’t accessible, 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 might be for those who’re already pregnant or for those who’ve had a detrimental response to EC prior to now.

The most typical negative effects to hormonal EC are nausea and vomiting, whereas an IUD may cause cramping and bleeding. You would possibly really feel a little bit 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 common, too, which could make you suppose you’re pregnant. If you happen to’re anxious, think about taking a pregnancy test. And belief your intestine: If one thing appears incorrect, akin 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, medical doctors 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 for those who 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 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 sorts can value as much as $90 per tablet. Most health insurance covers the complete value of an IUD. The underside line is, for those who don’t need to get pregnant, it is best to have a dependable type of contraception that you simply use persistently. Accidents occur, and emergency contraception is a good 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 Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons, New York Metropolis.

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