Birth control and contraception have come a long way since abstinence was one of the only ways to avoid unplanned pregnancies or reduce the chances of pregnancy. Today, there are multiple preventative methods, such as barrier, hormonal, and medical, that can help sexually active individuals to have intercourse without worrying about pregnancy. However, what happens when you get carried away in the heat of the moment and forget to use a condom? Or miss your dose of birth control pill and forget to use a condom during penetrative sex? Thankfully, there is a solution to it, which is emergency contraception.
Here are the things you need to know about emergency contraception before you decide to use it:
- There are two emergency contraception options- emergency contraceptive pills like the Unwanted 72 or an intra-uterine device.
- An emergency pill works by preventing ovulation from releasing the egg.
- An IUD or copper-T is a small device made of copper and plastic inserted into the womb. The copper released by the IUD prevents the egg from implanting in the womb.
- Emergency birth control pills must be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex. The sooner you take it after sex, the more effective it will be.
- If you are on a regular cycle of birth control pills like the Unwanted 21 Days, and if you have missed a dose, check the instruction booklet that comes with the pill packet to understand if you need to be using an emergency pill. If you are unsure, consult your doctor for further advice.
- Since the emergency birth control pill contains hormones, it needs to stay in your system for it to work. In case you vomit within three hours of taking the pill, consult your gynaecologist or trusted healthcare worker on whether you need to take another pill or not.
- Consult your gynaecologist before deciding which emergency contraception you can use when needed. Your lifestyle, medical history, current use of any medication, whether you are lactating or breastfeeding, etc., are factors that influence how your emergency contraceptive would work for you.
- After taking an emergency pill, you may experience side effects such as stomach ache, headache, nausea, etc.
- The emergency pill can shift your menstrual cycle; your next period may come earlier, later, or maybe more painful than usual.
- To prevent unplanned pregnancy, you can have an IUD inserted five days after unprotected sex or up to five days after the earliest time you could have ovulated.
- Emergency IUD is immensely effective; less than 1% of uterus-owners get pregnant when on the emergency IUD.
- You can use an IUD as your regular contraception method.
- Remember that emergency birth control pills or IUDs don’t cause an abortion. It is solely for preventing pregnancy.
- It is wise to remember that emergency contraception such as an emergency pill should be for emergency purposes only. Relying on emergency contraception for your regular contraception needs may be unhealthy for you. The surge in hormones caused by emergency birth control to prevent pregnancy can cause problems if you use it frequently.
Remember, it is your body, and you know how best to work with it. Trust your gut and your gynaecologist when it comes to using emergency contraception.