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What a Physician Desires You to Know About Emergency Contraception

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

Lots of people suppose emergency contraception (EC) is an abortion capsule, 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 should you’ve had unprotected intercourse or your contraception failed you over the previous a number of days.

Most types of emergency contraception include 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 understand is that there’s a nonhormonal EC possibility obtainable. It’s the Paragard copper IUD (intrauterine gadget). An IUD is a T-shaped gadget that’s put into your uterus via your cervix. Sperm don’t like copper, so 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 should you’re near ovulation in your menstrual cycle. Most ladies aren’t precisely certain once they ovulate, which is another excuse why it’s greatest to take emergency contraception as quickly as potential 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 more practical than different types of EC. Ella and Paragard are additionally more practical 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 prone 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 circumstances, it’s a must to ask a pharmacist for it.


It’s all the time a good suggestion to talk along with your physician earlier than taking a brand new remedy, together with emergency contraception. They could have particular recommendation that may aid you. For instance, should you’re obese or are tall with a big body, ella is extra prone to work than Plan B. However if you name your physician’s workplace, be sure you inform them you’re calling about EC, so that they put you in contact along with your physician instantly.

That mentioned, should you’re on trip or it’s a vacation or weekend and your physician isn’t obtainable, don’t wait to take EC. The longer you wait, the upper your odds of getting pregnant. Plus, analysis exhibits that EC is protected for ladies of all ages. The one actual motive to not use it might be should you’re already pregnant or should you’ve had a damaging response to EC previously.

The most typical unwanted side effects to hormonal EC are nausea and vomiting, whereas an IUD could cause cramping and bleeding. You would possibly really feel just a little uncomfortable for a day or two after taking it. That’s regular. So is irregular menstrual bleeding afterward. Your subsequent interval is perhaps heavier or lighter than it usually is. It is perhaps later than ordinary, too, which could make you suppose you’re pregnant. If you happen to’re frightened, think about taking a being pregnant check. And belief your intestine: If one thing appears improper, corresponding to actually heavy bleeding, name your physician or go to the emergency room.

Emergency contraception is for emergencies. It’s not a substitute for contraception. Sadly, docs 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 prone to get pregnant should you 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 differ, relying on the place you reside. Some over-the-counter EC can run as little as $10 a capsule. However different varieties can value as much as $90 per capsule. Most medical health insurance covers the complete value of an IUD. The underside line is, should you don’t need to get pregnant, you must have a dependable type of contraception that you just use constantly. Accidents occur, and emergency contraception is a good possibility for these. But it surely’s not for on a regular basis use.



Scott G. Chudnoff, MD, chair, Division of OB/GYN, Stamford Hospital, Stamford, CT; medical professor of obstetrics and gynecology, Columbia College Vagelos Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons, New York Metropolis.

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