Emergency Contraceptive FAQs: Answering 11 Common Questions

emergency contraceptive

In this article, we will answer some common emergency contraceptive FAQs that we have collected from various places on the internet.

What Is An Emergency Contraceptive?

Emergency contraceptive (EC) stops a woman from getting pregnant. It is a type of birth control. But there is a difference between regular birth control and emergency contraception. You can take an EC even after you have intercourse. But you have to take regular birth control before the intercourse.

As the name suggests, emergency contraception is for emergencies. It is not the first line of options to prevent pregnancy. Rather, it is advisable to always follow a regular birth control method. But, if you fail to do so, then EC is a dependable alternative.

In the post below, we will discuss the frequently asked questions about emergency contraception. These questions and answers will clear all your doubts about EC.

Emergency Contraceptive FAQs

Here are the Frequently Asked Questions on emergency birth control methods:

1. What are the different types of emergency contraceptives?

The most common type of EC is a pill. This is known as the ‘morning after’ pill. Here are few options of emergency contraception pills and their alternatives:

  • Hormone-based EC Pills: These pills contain levonorgestrel hormone. You may not need a prescription to purchase these medications. One of the examples is Plan B One-Step.
  • Birth Control Pills: You can make a regular birth control pill act as an EC. For this, you need to consume more than one pill at a time. This method may work. But it may cause additional side effects. Also, it may not be that effective as an emergency contraceptive pill. Follow the dosage instruction by your doctor, if you want to take a birth control pill like an EC.
  • Non-hormonal EC Pill: Non-hormonal birth control options can also restrict you from conceiving. One of the examples is Ella. It has a non-hormonal agent – ulipristal. It blocks the female hormones required to cause a pregnancy. You need a prescription-only medicine.
  • Intrauterine Device (IUD): A copper- T IUD is an emergency contraception option. It is an invasive small-device that fits inside your body. The intrauterine device works as long as it is in the uterus. The device is either hormonal or non-hormonal.

An IUD works as regular birth control as well as emergency contraception. It is only a qualified doctor or nurse who can put an intrauterine device in you. For an IUD to act as an EC, you need to get it fit inside you within 5 days of having intercourse.

Also Read: Pros And Cons Of IUDs

2. Can emergency contraceptives end an existing pregnancy?

It is important to remember that an EC does not induce an abortion. Thus, it will not work if you are already pregnant. The function of an emergency contraceptive is only to prevent a pregnancy from taking place. It stops you from conceiving. To check if you are pregnant or not, take a pregnancy test.

To eliminate an existing pregnancy, you need to go through a surgical or medical abortion. A surgical procedure is invasive and requires the use of surgical instruments. In a medical abortion, you can take abortion pills to empty the uterus of fetal parts.

3. When you may want to use an emergency contraceptive?

You may want to use an emergency contraceptive if the condom slipped off/broke/leaked during intercourse. You can even utilize it after unprotected sex and you wish not to conceive. Or, if you were forced into physical intimacy. You may even consider it in case of missing two or more birth control pills in the ovulation cycle.

4. How do emergency contraceptives work?

The oral EC pills delay ovulation. The hormone pills temporarily block the release of mature eggs. Thus, they restrict fertilization. Even if fertilization takes place, the pills restrict implantation. Thus, the fertilized egg does not attach to the uterus. Non-hormonal pills block the function of female hormones required for conception. And IUDs stops a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus.

5. Can emergency birth control protect against STDs?

Any type of emergency contraception will not protect you from contracting a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or infection. Thus, you must not use it for protection against HIV, AIDS, Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, Scabies, etc.

  • A barrier method such as latex condoms may provide some amount of protection
  • But, the best way to avoid STDs is to have protected intercourse
  • Or, establish sexual contact only with an uninfected person

6. Will an emergency contraceptive affect your ability to conceive in the future?

Taking emergency contraceptives like Plan B pill pills do not affect your fertility. So, you can still have a baby after discontinuing birth control or EC. Now you may want to conceive but have an IUD in place. In this case, the doctor will remove the device for you. You can then plan for pregnancy accordingly.

7. Which type of emergency contraceptive will work the best for you?

All the emergency contraception methods are effective. But which may work the best for you depends on several factors. For instance, your insurance may cover only particular EC options. Your age is a factor too, especially for non-prescription alternatives.

Your body weight is one of the parameters. For instance, Plan B One-Step may not be the best alternative for females weighing more than 165 pounds. For such women, a copper-releasing IUD is a good option. Such an IUD may have greater efficacy in overweight females.

Also, when you indulged in intercourse, matters. This is because a few emergency birth control methods work for about 3 days after sex. Others may work 5 days after the physical act.

8. What are the side effects of emergency contraception?

One of the most common emergency contraceptive FAQs is related to its possible side effects.

Emergency contraceptives are safe for use in females. Usually, people do not experience any serious side effects. However, it can take some time for your body to adjust to the dose. Before that happens, you may experience a few mild effects. These include breast tenderness, stomach ache, headache, nausea, spotting between periods, change in menstruation date, etc.

Talk to your doctor about your medical history. Reveal the medications you are on currently. Judging all these factors, the healthcare provider will prescribe you the best possible EC.

9. Which medications or supplements may interact with emergency contraceptives?

A few supplements or medicines may affect the working of emergency birth control. The interacting agents include St. John’s Wort, rifampicin, and few other antibiotics, Dilantin for epilepsy, etc. Disclose all the medicines that you take to your doctor before using an EC.

10. Where can you get emergency birth control?

Another common emergency contraceptive FAQs include details on buying such items.

You can purchase emergency contraceptive pills from online pharmacies, physical medical stores, clinics, hospitals, etc. You may not need a prescription for most of the products. However, certain ECs are prescription-based only. You can pick an option accordingly.

11. How soon should you use emergency contraception?

You must take an emergency contraceptive as soon as after intercourse. The sooner you take it, the greater possibility is for it to work effectively. Commonly, you must take an emergency birth control within 72 hours of sex. If you do so, the product may work 98%-99% of the time.

For instance, you can take generic levonorgestrel and Plan B One-Step within 72 hours after intercourse. But these may also work up to 5 days after the sexual activity. An IUD and Ella may remain effective up to 5 days after the physical intimacy.

However, the results are subjective. The primary factor that influences the efficacy of ECs is when you are in your cycle. Waiting for a long time to take an EC when you are fertile is a risky thing to do. This is why without any delay you must use emergency contraception as soon as after sex.

Emergency Contraceptive FAQs: To Conclude

Emergency Contraceptives are excellent to prevent pregnancy. You can avail of one without a prescription from any pharmacy. If you have existing health issues, it is always better to follow your doctor’s advice on the EC. Also, if you ever want to plan your pregnancy, discuss with your healthcare provider about when to stop taking birth control.


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