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Emergency Contraception – Morning After Pill

Emergency Contraception/Morning After Pill

Emergency contraception is provided one of two ways:  Using increased doses of certain oral contraceptive pills, called Emergency Contraceptive Pills (ECPs), or insertion of an Intrauterine Device (IUD).

Morning After Pill (MAP) or Emergency Contraception Pills (ECP)

Taken within 72 hours of intercourse.

This procedure consists of a pregnancy test and two doses of pills (estradiol and norgestrel). The first ECP, Preven, is a combination of the hormones estrogen and progestin. Its effects are twofold: to suppress ovulation (a contraceptive effect) and to change the uterine lining to make the womb hostile to developing life (an abortion effect). The woman is instructed to take the first dose of pills as soon as possible, not more than 72 hours after relations. She takes the second dose 12 hours after the first dose. If conception already occurred within the 72-hour time-frame, the life is expelled causing an early abortion.

Depending on the kind of medication administered, there is between a 75-89% chance of preventing pregnancy with the use of ECPs. Side effects of ECPs may include nausea (in 1/2 of women), abdominal pain, fatigue, vomiting (1/3 of women), breast tenderness, irregular bleeding, fluid retention, dizziness and headaches.

In many States, this can only be purchased with a prescription. The manufacturer stated that the MAP should not be used routinely as a contraceptive. Note: If the woman is pregnant from a previous incident, the procedure will not be effective.

The danger signals to watch for after taking the pill are:

  • Chest or arm pain
  • Shortness of breath or coughing
  • Swelling or pain in the legs
  • Severe headaches, dizziness, weakness, numbness in any part of your body
  • Blurry or double vision
  • Severe depression

Source: Manufacturer’s Prescribing Information for Plan B (Levonorgestrel) tablets, 0.75 mg. Mfg. by Gedeon Richter, Ltd., Budapest, Hungary for Duramed Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Subsidiary of Barr Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Pomona, NY 10970. Revised Feb. 2004, BR-038/21000382503.

Intrauterine Device (IUD)

For use within 5 days of unprotected sex.

A second form of emergency contraception involves the insertion of an Intrauterine Device (IUD). The IUD is designed to prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg and is effective up to 99% of the time. IUDs are not recommended for women who are at risk for sexually transmitted diseases because insertion of the IUD can lead to pelvic infection, increasing the chances of STD transmission. Lower abdominal cramping can be expected during or just after insertion of an IUD. Other side effects may include dizziness and, rarely, fainting. If left in place, IUDs can cause irregular periods and more cramping with periods. IUDs offer no protection against sexually transmitted diseases.