A contraceptive mishap can happen to any woman. In such situations, fast action is important to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. The morning-after pill inhibits ovulation and blocks the chance of fertilization. However, the preparation is associated with side effects, costs, and risks.
You can find out everything you need to know about the morning-after pill in this article.
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Condom Broken? A Case For The Morning-after Pill
No contraceptive method is 100% safe. In careless moments, mistakes can happen that suddenly drastically increase the risk of an unwanted pregnancy. In this situation, many women immediately head to the pharmacy to take the morning-after pill.
How exactly does this type of emergency contraception work? Does the morning-after pill come at a cost, and if so, how much? Are there any side effects? Find out how to react correctly in an emergency situation and how the morning-after pill is best used!
What Is The Morning-after Pill?
The morning-after pill is a product available without a prescription to prevent fertilization and thus pregnancy after unprotected sexual intercourse or a contraceptive breakdown.
There are currently two different versions of the pill on the market:
- The pill with the active ingredient levonorgestrel.
- The pill with the active ingredient ulipristal acetate.
Both active ingredients aim to delay your ovulation. This is inhibited for at least five days – exactly the period during which male sperm cells can survive in your body. Therefore, the sperm cannot find an egg to fertilize, and pregnancy becomes impossible.
The tablet with levonorgestrel can be used up to 72 hours after the contraceptive breakdown. The variant with the active ingredient ulipristal acetate can even be used up to 120 hours after unprotected intercourse.
Unfortunately, the pill is useless if ovulation has already occurred at the time of sexual intercourse. You should therefore know your ovulation and your fertile days in order to take the right measures.
Taking The Morning-after Pill Correctly: Here’s How!
The best time to take the pill is in the first 12 hours after unprotected sexual intercourse. The sooner you get the pill from the pharmacy and take it, the better.
The reason for the urgency is the fact that ovulation can occur at any time, even directly in the hours after sexual intercourse. It is imperative that the tablet be taken before this to be effective.
Since 2015, you can get the morning-after pill in Germany without a prescription. In Austria, Switzerland and many other European countries, it is also available at any pharmacy without a doctor’s prescription.
Depending on the country, the cost of the morning-after pill varies. The pharmacy staff will ask you about the timing of the contraceptive breakdown to decide which version of the medication is right for you.
Only a single tablet is taken. Follow exactly the package insert and the description of the received preparation. The pill should not be taken on an empty stomach, at least a small meal beforehand is advisable.
Otherwise, the risk of vomiting the pill within a few hours increases. If this happens, another tablet must be taken. Otherwise the effectiveness is not guaranteed.
The two active ingredients levonorgestrel and ulipristal acetate must not be taken in combination. Getting both versions from two different pharmacies should be avoided at all costs. In addition, with the exception of vomiting, you must not swallow more than one tablet.
Some women panic in an emergency situation and do not follow the instructions of the pharmacist and package insert. In this case, the recommended dose is perfectly sufficient to achieve the desired prevention of ovulation.
Contraception After The Morning-after Pill
The active substances in the pill to inhibit ovulation upset the hormone balance in the body. Therefore, after taking the pill, your regular hormonal contraception – i.e. the birth control pill – no longer offers reliable protection against pregnancy in the current cycle.
Until your next menstruation, you must therefore use another form of contraception, preferably a condom. Be careful not to make any other contraceptive mistakes. A second use of the morning-after pill in the same cycle may be ineffective.
When taking the levonorgestrel preparation, the regular contraceptive pill can continue to be taken. The ulipristal acetate preparation, on the other hand, requires a five-day break from taking it. Contact your pharmacist or gynecologist if you have further questions.
Morning-after Pill: The Cost Of The Preparation
The morning-after pill and its cost are a topic that sometimes discourages very young women and girls in particular from going to the pharmacy. This fear is unjustified. However, girls under the age of 14 must usually be accompanied to the pharmacy by a parent or guardian.
There is no legally set retail price for the pill. The cost, depending on the active ingredient variant, is between 20 and 35 euros per tablet in almost all pharmacies, which can only be purchased individually.
Women younger than 22 have the option of having the drug prescribed by a doctor. Then the health insurance company takes over the costs supporting the morning-after pill.
Nausea, Abdominal Pain And Bleeding: The Side Effects Of The Morning-after Pill
Both current versions of the pill are generally well tolerated. However, the following side effects can always occur:
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Pain in the abdomen.
- Tight chest.
- Intermenstrual bleeding and premature menstruation.
If it is possible for you, spend the day when you take the pill at home. If you experience one or more of the side effects of the pill for a long time, you should consult a doctor.
Do not take the pill in combination with the following medications:
- Hypericin for depression.
- Medicines used in the course of HIV therapy.
- Medicines for tuberculosis.
- Medicines for epilepsy.
In women who are very overweight, the active ingredient of the preparation may not be effective. In this case, consult a doctor who will be able to judge the right method for you.
The pill is not a cure for STDs. If you have had unprotected intercourse – especially with an unknown partner – you should also have a test to determine your health.
Is The Morning-after Pill An Abortion Pill?
The morning-after pill is very often confused with the so-called abortion pill. These are two completely different preparations. The abortion pill is used for medication abortions under medical supervision.
The morning-after pill only inhibits ovulation and cannot expel a fertilized egg from the body. If you take the pill when fertilization has already occurred, you will remain pregnant. According to the current state of research, the embryo is not affected by the active ingredients of the pill.
If you decide to become pregnant, your baby will be born without any health problems caused by the pill. If you would like to. If you want to terminate the pregnancy, consult your gynecologist or a specialized clinic.
Not A Substitute For Contraception
The preparations currently available on the market are a safe way to prevent unwanted pregnancies, even before a physically and emotionally difficult abortion. However, this opportunity should not be taken lightly.
The pill is a heavy burden on your body. In addition, its effectiveness decreases if it is taken more than once per cycle. It is therefore only intended as an emergency solution and not for regular use.
After the first use at the latest, the time has come to seriously consider contraception. There is now a wide range of hormonal and non-hormonal contraceptives, with the right method for every woman and every couple.
This way, the trip to the pharmacy will hopefully remain a one-time experience for you and the next possible pregnancy will be the one with your desired child.