Emergency Contraception: What It Is, What Methods Exist, How To Choose

Emergency Contraception What It Is, What Methods Exist, How To Choose

79% of American women have heard about emergency contraception – however, less than 5% of women use them. And this is not surprising because there are many frightening rumors about it.

What is emergency contraception?

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists define emergency contraception as any method of preventing pregnancy after unprotected sexual intercourse.

Sex can be considered unprotected if:

  • no contraceptives were used;
  • a condom broke, slipped off, or the wrong size was used;
  • the woman forgot about contraceptives – she was late to take a pill, didn’t get an injection, didn’t use a contraceptive ring or patch;
  • a spermicidal film has not completely dissolved;
  • the cervical (uterine) cap has shifted, the diaphragm has torn or the intrauterine device has fallen out;
  • it was not possible to interrupt sexual intercourse on time.

According to the WHO, emergency contraception helps avoid pregnancy in 95% of unprotected sex cases. While this does not have a 100% success, the effectiveness of the method is still five times higher than that of interrupting intercourse.

If sex has already happened, and there is no time to see a doctor, you should immediately purchase an emergency contraceptive at your nearest pharmacy. If you still have not received your next paycheck and need to find cash urgently, you can take out payday loans Douglasville GA. These loans are easy to access – the application process is online, they do not check your credit, and you do not need to go anywhere to get your funds – they will be deposited into your bank account the same day. This is the easiest way to get cash for the purchase of an emergency contraceptive- when every minute counts.

After that, you should still schedule a visit to the doctor. This will help you find out if you have additional risks and if you need an additional examination after unprotected sex.

4 important facts about emergency contraception

  1. Methods of emergency contraception can be used even by those women who have contraindications to the use of everyday contraceptive pill;
  2. An emergency contraceptive pill can be taken several times during the same menstrual cycle. But it is important to understand that they are not as effective as safe as everyday contraceptives;
  3. Although emergency contraceptive pills are called “morning-after pills”, they can be used any time of the day after sex;
  4. Emergency contraceptives do not protect against genital infections.

Why you need to see a doctor after unprotected sex

There are a number of reasons why you need to make an appointment with a gynecologist after unprotected sex (and it’s not just about choosing an emergency contraception method).

Your doctor will help you choose a general contraceptive line. It largely depends on the woman’s lifestyle. Indeed, there is a very big difference between regular sex with her husband (when a woman simply forgot to take contraceptives) and sex with several partners in a month.

In the clinic, you can also be examined for genital infections. After casual contact, women worry about contraception much more than the need to get tested for sexually transmitted diseases. At the same time, the consequences of past illnesses can be very serious.

A visit to a gynecologist allows you to get true safety – both in terms of contraception and in terms of health.

What are the methods of emergency contraception?

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommend four methods for emergency contraception. Let’s figure out what is the difference between these methods and in what cases you should use them.

1. Copper uterine device

  • Efficiency. A copper uterine device is one of the safest methods of emergency contraception. >1 out of 100 women are at risk of getting pregnant;
  • What it is and how it works. An intrauterine device is a small device in the shape of the letter “T” placed in your uterus to interrupt the process of insemination. Copper slows down the movement of sperm, reducing the chance of fertilization. But even if fertilization takes place, copper will not allow the embryo to gain a foothold in the inner lining of the uterus;
  • How to use. An IUD must be inserted by a doctor. This should be done within five days after sex. In some studies, the device worked 10 days later, but just in case it is better not to risk it.

There are IUDs not only with copper but also with hormonal components. They are well suited for women who regularly have to think about emergency contraception: for example, those who have a regular partner. This is a reliable, long-lasting and highly effective birth control method.

2. Ulipristal pills

  • Efficiency. Ulipristal is the second most reliable method recommended by Western guidelines. <1 out of 100 women are at risk of getting pregnant;
  • What it is and how it works. These are non-hormonal pills that prevent the release of an egg from the ovary;
  • How to use. Take one tablet within five days after sex. The sooner you manage to take the medicine, the higher the effectiveness.

3. Levonorgestrel pills

  • Efficiency. 1 in 100 women are at risk of getting pregnant;
  • What it is and how it works. Hormonal pills delay the development of the egg – this helps to avoid fertilization if sex happened before and during ovulation when the chance of pregnancy is highest;
  • How to use. Take the medicine within three days after sex, but the sooner the better. Ideally, you need to use the drug within 24 hours. Levonorgestrel pills are considered the most effective in the first three days after unprotected intercourse.

4. Mifepristone pills

  • Efficiency. 1 in 100 women are at risk of getting pregnant;
  • What it is and how it works. These are hormonal pills. Their mechanism of action depends on the phase of the cycle. The drug either delays ovulation or “expels” the embryo from the inner lining of the uterus. Mifepristone pills are considered one of the most reliable emergency contraception methods, but they have the most contraindications;
  • How to use. Take the medicine within five days after sex.

Mifepristone is considered slightly less effective than levonorgestrel but remains effective for five days. If more than three days have passed since unprotected sex, you need to think about using this particular drug.

In some cases, the doctor may prescribe combined oral contraceptives, but this method of emergency contraception is considered the least reliable: 2 out of 100 women are at risk of getting pregnant.

Is emergency contraception dangerous?

WHO experts believe that emergency contraception is safe for health.

In general, emergency contraception methods are not hazardous to health. Although some methods have contraindications, they are usually associated with some kind of severe reaction to the components of the drug in the past.

In everyday life, a healthy woman does not need to undergo an in-depth examination in order to use emergency contraception.

At the same time, contraceptives are effective drugs. This means they may have side effects.

The most common side effects are:

  • headache – in 19% of women;
  • delayed menstruation by a week or bleeding not associated with menstruation – in 16% of women;
  • nausea – in 12% of women;
  • breast soreness or tenderness, abdominal pain, dizziness and fatigue – very rare.

In most cases, these side effects go away on their own, they do not need to be treated.

Emergency contraception myths

Myth # 1: Emergency contraception is contraindicated for use in adolescents.
This is not true. Doctors around the world believe that premature pregnancy or abortion is much more dangerous to health than emergency contraception. In addition, a teenager will have to see a doctor to get pills – and this further reduces the of contracting sexually transmitted infections.

Myth # 2: Emergency contraception hurts future children
This is not true. None of the studies have identified the risks for children that appeared in women who stopped using contraceptives.

Myth # 3: Emergency contraception increases the risk of infertility
No emergency contraceptive pill increases the risk of future infertility.

Myth # 4: If you take an emergency contraceptive without knowing you are pregnant, your baby will be born ugly.
Only mifepristone tablets can cause abortion. All other emergency contraceptives do not affect pregnancy and baby development.

Myth 5: Emergency contraception increases the risk of ectopic pregnancy in the future.
Everything is exactly the opposite: any contraceptive reduces this risk because they reduce the chances of getting pregnant.

Myth # 6: Emergency contraception triggers cancer
The intrauterine device does not provoke cancer – this has been unequivocally proven.

Top 3 questions about emergency contraception

1. How can I be sure that emergency contraception has worked?

The safest way is to wait for your next period. Another way is to take a blood test for chorionic hormone (hCG). This analysis confirms the onset of pregnancy, but it makes sense to take it no earlier than 7-10 days after unprotected sex.

At the same time, it is important to understand that low levels of hCG in the blood are not a reason to calm down because in some women, the concentration of the hormone rises more slowly. In this situation, it remains only to wait for your period. If the hCG level is high, this is an unambiguous signal that conception has occurred.

2. Should I buy emergency contraceptives in advance, so as not to see a doctor later?

This is a very bad practice. If you know that you will have sex, you need to purchase the means for normal contraception in advance: condoms, pills or an IUD. You should prefer timely contraception.

3. What is the best method of preventing pregnancy?

The most reliable contraceptive tactic is to use means that remain in the woman’s body for a long time: for example, IUDs or implants. But if a woman has several partners, then there is still no escape from condoms, even if she uses any “long-term” method of contraception. This reduces the risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections.

IMPORTANT! This article is not an advertisement for any medication. Before using any medication, consult a specialist.

Category: General

Tags: birth control pills, contraception, emergence, emergency contraception, pregnancy, unwanted pregnancy