Morning After Pill & Emergency Contraception
The morning after pill is a form of emergency contraception for when you have either engaged in unprotected sex or believe that your usual form of contraception may have failed. It works by introducing estrogen and progestin into your body. These are the same hormones that are used in traditional birth control pills, but in this pill, they are present in a higher concentration.
What Does the Morning After Pill Do?
Otherwise known as emergency contraception and Plan B, the morning after pill prevents pregnancy by delaying ovulation with the same hormones as regular birth control pills, but in a much higher dosage. Delaying ovulation inhibits the ability of your ovaries to release an egg, meaning that fertilization and pregnancy cannot occur. If ovulation has already taken place or if too much time has passed since intercourse (over 72 hours), data suggests that it is unlikely to be effective.
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Morning After Pill Directions
Emergency contraception should be taken within 72 hours of sexual intercourse. It is taken in two doses; the first dose is taken immediately and the second 12 hours later. The morning after pill is still effective even if you are already taking birth control pills and miss a dose. However, the Morning After Pill is not intended to be a primary form of birth control and should only be taken as a backup or in case of ‘emergency’ as indicated by the name.
It is important to note that the morning after pill does not terminate established pregnancies and is not a form of abortion.
Morning After Pill Effectiveness
The morning after pill’s effectiveness is relative to when it is taken, and has a higher rate of preventing pregnancy the sooner it is taken. For instance, Plan B One Step is 95 percent effective when taken within 24 hours of sexual intercourse – but this number dips to 89 percent after 72 hours have passed.
Additionally, some medications may cause side effects if taken with the morning after pill, and St. John’s Wort, barbiturates, and other substances can decrease its effectiveness.