- Emergency contraception prevents unwanted pregnancy
- It can be taken as oral pills or copper-T IUD
- The morning after pills to be taken within 72 hours and copper-T IUDs to be inserted within five days of intercourse.
- It acts as a lifesaver for many women who experience sexual assaults or gang rape
- Emergency contraception cannot abort an implanted pregnancy as per researches
Contraception is the method of preventing pregnancy by interfering with the process of ovulation and fertilization. Emergency contraception is used after the act of sexual intercourse to prevent pregnancy and often called as ‘morning-after pills.’
It is often used in incidents like:
- Unprotected intercourse
- Contraception failure like condom breakage during the act
- Incorrect use of contraceptives
- Sexual assault without using contraception
- If you miss your daily contraception pills
- Failed withdrawal during intercourse
- Expulsion of IUDs that were inserted
As per WHO, emergency contraceptives are recommended to use within three to five days of intercourse. Meanwhile, it is not recommended for a long term based prevention of pregnancy. If you are sexually active and don’t want to get pregnant, then consult a doctor, choose a viable contraception. Emergency contraception is not meant for this long term use.
Emergency contraceptive pills and Copper-T IUDs are being used as emergency contraception across the world.
Mode of action of morning after pills
- Ovulation is prevented or delayed when drug is taken at the beginning of the cycle
- Implantation is prevented as the endometrium is made unfavorable.
- Fertilisation interferes.
Emergency contraceptive pills are of three types:
- Progestin only pills (levonorgestrel)
- Antiprogestin only (Mifepristone)
- Combined estrogen and progestin pills (Ethinyl Estradiol+ Norgesterol)
The progestin only pills are available as an over-the-counter drug (available without a doctors’ prescription) in many of the countries including India. Other medications can be taken after consulting with a doctor. As far as emergency contraception is considered, the sooner you take medicine, the better the effect will be.
The dosages for the emergency contraception should be taken as per the instruction of the one you choose. While some may have split doses, some may have single dose pills.
If the copper-T IUD has been used as an emergency contraception, it remains for longer, and you need not think about contraception until its expiry which can be 3, 5, 10 or 12 years.
It is to be noted that emergency contraceptives never act as medication for abortion. It cannot abort an implanted egg rather prevent the implantation before happening it. Hence if you are already pregnant, emergency contraception will not work.
Using an emergency contraception may show the following symptoms like:
- Abdominal pain
- Breast tenderness
- Irregular menstrual cycle for temporary
Emergency contraception gains its prominence when associated with an incident of sexual assault or gang rape. Though emergency contraception cannot prevent the spreading of sexually transmitted diseases, it can avoid an unwanted pregnancy. In incidents like sexual assault, where the woman has been used sexually without her consent, emergency contraception available without a prescription saves her life from being in trauma or carrying the shame in a conventional society.