What is the morning-after pill?
The morning-after pill is a method of birth control known as emergency contraception. If your typical form of birth control wasn't used properly (for instance, if the condom broke during sex) or if you are not on birth control), you should use emergency contraception to prevent an unplanned pregnancy.
Contrary to the name, you don't have to take the morning-after pill the following morning. However, you must take it as soon as possible, within 3 to 5 days after having unprotected sex. There are two types of the morning-after pill: levonorgestrel (commonly referred to as Plan-B or i-Pill) and ulipristal.
How does the pill work?
Both levonorgestrel and ulipristal lower the possibility of the sperm fertilising an egg. By temporarily blocking or postponing the release of eggs from your ovary, they help prevent pregnancies. While the pill might not be able to delay ovulation, it can still decrease the likelihood of the sperm fertilising an egg.
The pill also stops the fertilised eggs from being implanted in the uterine lining. But if the egg is already implanted, it will not be affected by the use of levonorgestrel or ulipristal. In other words, emergency contraceptives won't help if you are already pregnant, as they cannot terminate a pregnancy.
Are there any risks associated with taking the pill?
While the morning-after pill is effective for preventing pregnancy, it should not be your default method of contraception. Experts don’t recommend the routine use of this pill. Plus, it does not protect you against sexually transmitted infections.
The morning-after pill is not suitable for everyone. Individuals with the following conditions must specifically avoid it:
- Allergic to the components of the pill (check the list of ingredients before you take it)
- Other medications which can reduce the effectiveness of the pill
What are the best pills to avoid pregnancy in India?
The following are some effective, easily available emergency contraceptive pills in India:
- i-Pill: The pill contains the hormone Levonorgestrel, which provides utmost certainty when taken promptly after unprotected sex and contraceptive failure. The packet consists of just one pill. After unprotected sex, one should consume it within 72 hours. The effective rate of i-Pill is about 80-90%.
- Unwanted 72: This tablet is estrogen-free. As a result, it doesn't have any negative side effects like nausea or digestive problems. These emergency contraceptive pills should be used to prevent pregnancy within 72 hours of unprotected sex.
- Preventol: In India, Preventol is one of the more affordable and effective emergency contraceptive pills. It comes in a pack containing two tablets. One must be taken right away following unprotected sex, and the other within 12 hours. Preventol provides between 85% and 90% protection against unintended pregnancy.
What are the side effects of taking the morning-after pill?
Listed below are some common, temporary side effects of taking the morning-after pill:
- Light spotting
- Nausea and dizziness
- Irregular (delayed or early) periods for a few months
- Cramps and abdominal pain
- Tender and/or painful breasts
Frequently asked questions
When should I take the morning-after pill?
You must take the pill as soon as possible after having unprotected sex. For best results, take it within 24 hours of having intercourse. The pill can prevent pregnancy for 3-5 days after having unprotected sex. However (except unavoidable circumstances), it is advisable to take the pill within 72 hours.
Can I get pregnant again after taking the morning-after pill?
Since the morning-after pill is not a long-term method of birth control, it won't interfere with your fertility or make it more difficult for you to conceive in the future.
How long does the morning-after pill stay in my system?
Once you have taken the pill, it is only effective for roughly five days, after which the hormones in the tablet will leave your body. However, make sure to use protection, like an external condom, If you have penetrative sex during this period.
It is okay to feel overwhelmed when your usual method of birth control fails. It happens more often than you can imagine, and you are definitely not alone! There is always a plan B to avoid any unpleasant situation. However, planning your birth control is important for a healthy sexual life. Birth control plans look different for different people.
You can now book a consultation with our friendly, non-judgemental gynaecologists from the comfort of your home and get all your birth control-related doubts answered!