You had unprotected sex and now you are scared about being pregnant and wondering what you’re supposed to do. What feels like a million “what if” questions you can’t answer begin to run through your mind. Then you start to wonder…”Can I take that morning-after pill?” But, you don’t know anything about it.
Here are some important facts that you can use to help you make the best informed decision you can make for yourself.
What is the morning-after pill?
1. It is a drug intended to be taken within the first 72 hours after unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy.
2. It contains a high dose of progesterone (levonorgestrel), which is used in many kinds of birth control pills.
3. At this dosage, this drug may work on rare occasions to prevent an embryo from implanting in the uterus.
4. It is also known by the brand name – Plan B®
How does it work?
Depending on the stage of your menstrual cycle, this pill could affect you in one of the following three ways:
1. It may prevent ovulation: the egg will not be released from the ovary – so fertilization, or conception, cannot occur.
2. It may affect the lining of your fallopian tubes so that sperm cannot reach the egg. This also prevents fertilization.
3. It may irritate the lining of the uterus. If an egg has already been released and fertilized by the sperm, this could make it harder for the embryo to implant in your uterus.
Are there side effects?
Yes. You may experience several short-term side effects when taking the morning-after pill. These include:
* nausea and vomiting
* irregular and unpredictable periods
* cramping and abdominal pain – this might also be a sign of an “ectopic pregnancy”
* breast tenderness
What is an ectopic pregnancy? Why does it matter?
- This is a potentially life-threatening condition in which a fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus – most often in the fallopian tubes.
- The morning-after pill will not end an ectopic pregnancy
- If you have severe abdominal pain three to five weeks after using the morning-after pill, see your health care professional to rule out an ectopic pregnancy.
- An embryo growing in a fallopian tube will require emergency care.
You should know…
- After the sperm penetrates and fertilizes the egg, which can happen within minutes after unprotected sex, 46 human chromosomes come together in a one-of-a-kind genetic design that determines a person’s eye and hair color, gender, skin tone, height, and even the intricate swirl of the fingerprints.
- The morning-after pill can’t guarantee that you won’t get pregnant, nor does it protect you from contracting HIV/AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases.
Do you know the difference?
These pills can often be confused.
|The Abortion Pill||The Morning-After Pill|
An abortion method used to terminate an early pregnancy.
|A method used to prevent pregnancy. It may cause a very early abortion if fertilization has already occurred.|
|Medications are Mifiprex® (mifepristone) and Cytotec® (misoprostol).||Medication is Plan B® One-Step (levonorgestrel).|
|Must be taken within 49 days of when your last period began.||Must be taken within 72 hours after unprotected sex.|
|Pills must be prescribed by a health care professional. At least three visits to your provider are necessary, possibly more.||Depending on your age, the morning-after pill may be purchased without a prescription.|
|Will not prevent sexually transmitted diseases.||Will not prevent sexually transmitted diseases.|
All information taken from the brochure titled; “the morning-after pill” written by Vicki L. Dihle, PA-C and published by Focus on the Family.
Copyright 2009 Focus on the Family