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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. Should you’re already pregnant and you employ it, it received’t finish your being pregnant. EC solely reduces your odds of getting pregnant in the event you’ve had unprotected sex or your birth control 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.) Should you don’t launch an egg, then sperm can’t fertilize it. That forestalls being pregnant. However what many ladies don’t understand is that there’s a nonhormonal EC choice accessible. It’s the Paragard copper IUD (intrauterine system). An IUD is a T-shaped system that’s put into your uterus by way of your cervix. Sperm don’t like copper, in order that they don’t get previous Paragard to achieve and fertilize an egg.

The factor about EC is that the earlier you employ it, the higher it really works. That’s very true in the event you’re near ovulation in your menstrual cycle. Most ladies aren’t precisely certain once they ovulate, which is one more reason why it’s finest to take emergency contraception as quickly as doable after you’ve had unprotected intercourse. Should you do know you’ve simply ovulated or are about to, then ella and Paragard are simpler than different types of EC. Ella and Paragard are additionally simpler if it’s been greater than 3 days because you’ve had unprotected intercourse. However they actually work solely inside a few 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 physician 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, you must ask a pharmacist for it.


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

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

The most typical negative effects to hormonal EC are nausea and vomiting, whereas an IUD could cause cramping and bleeding. You would possibly really feel slightly uncomfortable for a day or two after taking it. That’s regular. So is irregular menstrual bleeding afterward. Your subsequent interval may be heavier or lighter than it usually is. It may be later than normal, too, which could make you suppose you’re pregnant. Should you’re nervous, take into account taking a pregnancy test. And belief your intestine: If one thing appears mistaken, similar to actually heavy bleeding, name your physician or go to the emergency room.

Emergency contraception is for emergencies. It’s not a substitute for birth control. Sadly, medical doctors do see sufferers who depend on EC to keep away from being pregnant as a result of they don’t wish to use, say, condoms. However you’re extra prone to get pregnant in the event 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 price as much as $90 per capsule. Most health insurance covers the total price of an IUD. The underside line is, in the event you don’t wish to get pregnant, it’s best to have a dependable type of contraception that you just use persistently. Accidents occur, and emergency contraception is a good choice for these. However it’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 School of Physicians and Surgeons, New York Metropolis.

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