Known as an emergency contraceptive, the morning after pill is a birth control measure that is used after sex occurs. So if your condom fails or you forgot to take your birth control pills, here are 7 things you should know about the morning after pill.
Not an abortion pill
While the morning after pill delays ovulation (the process in which an egg is released from the ovary to be fertilised by the sperm), it does not allow an already fertilised egg to be removed from the uterine wall. Unlike the abortion pill, the morning after pill has the same level of hormones that can be found in birth control pills.
Depending on which pill you choose, they each have different time limits to their effectiveness. If you take Levonelle, which contains a hormone called Levonorgestrel, it can take up to 72 hours after unprotected sex; while Ella One which contains Ulipristal Acetate, can last up to 120 hours after. Whichever pill you decide to take, the earlier you take it the better as the level of effectiveness gradually decreases the longer you wait.
If you have taken the pill after a night of unprotected sex, it does not keep you protected if you engage in unprotected sex again.
You don't need a prescription
If you are worried that getting a prescription might delay your chances of receiving the pill, fret no longer. You can now have access to the morning after pills Plan B One-Step and its generic form Levonelle over the counter; making it easier and more accessible than ever before. Some NHS pharmacies offer the morning after pill for free, while you can purchase the pill over the counter for roughly £30-35. Also, if you are looking for other alternatives, check your GP, family planning clinic, walk-in centres, and youth clinics if you are under 25.
There is another form of emergency contraception
While the morning pill is effective, the copper IUD is the most effective form of emergency contraception. Unlike the morning after pill which may not be absorbed into the system properly if thrown up three hours afterwards, the IUD can prevent fertilisation of an ovary if inserted within five days of unprotected sex. Despite its high effective rate, make sure to speak to your health care professional to make sure you are a good candidate as this form of contraception is a longer form of birth control that can only be inserted by a health official.
It will not protect you from more unprotected sex
If you have taken the pill after a night of unprotected sex, it does not keep you protected if you engage in unprotected sex again. The pill is only guaranteed to protect you once the deed is done and there has been no studies suggesting that the pill covers you a second time. However, a more reliable method of birth control such as condoms are a great way to protect against unplanned pregnancies and STIs which the morning after pill does not do.
You can take it more than once
Even though research shows that there are no long-term effects of the morning after pill on your health or fertility with repeated use; it should not be used as a reliable form of birth control. Not only can it become costly, there are other continuous methods of birth control such as the pill, the ring, or condoms that are easier to acquire and manage.
There is a likelihood of still getting pregnant
Whilst both Levonelle and EllaOne are great at preventing pregnancy, no form of contraception is 100% effective. So if you take the morning after pill and your period is more than a week late, you may be pregnant. If you believe that your emergency contraception failed, visit your GP for more information.