Side Effects Of Emergency Contraceptive Pills
The morning-after pill is a type of emergency birth control (contraception). Emergency contraception is used to prevent pregnancy for women who’ve had unprotected sex or whose birth control method has failed.
The morning-after pill is intended for backup contraception only, not as a primary method of birth control.
They work primarily by delaying ovulation. Emergency contraception does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.
You must know that the morning-after pill isn’t the same as mifepristone (Mifeprex), also known as RU-486 or the abortion pill. This drug terminates an established pregnancy — one in which the fertilized egg has attached to the uterine wall and has begun to develop.
Types of Emergency Contraceptive Pills
Here are some popular types of the morning after pill.
- Combination Pills: These type of pills thicken the cervical mucus making it difficult for the sperm to move. At the same time, they help in thinning of the uterus lining which makes it hard for the eggs to attach. These pills contain both estrogen and progestin.
- Mini-Pills: These pills work in the same way as combination pills. It suppresses ovulation by preventing the sperm from reaching the egg and. The main difference is that they do not contain estrogen and is recommended for those who are unable to take the same.
Where Can I Get Emergency Contraception?
Emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs) are available at every pharmacy, women’s health centers, private doctors and some hospital emergency rooms.
When do I take the Emergency contraceptive pill?
For maximum effectiveness, emergency contraception should be started as soon as possible after unprotected intercourse, and within 120 hours. You can take emergency contraceptive pills anytime during your menstrual cycle.
Common Side Effects of Emergency Contraceptive Pills
Every medication comes with some side effects and so does a contraceptive pill. Here are some of those side effects –
One of the most common side-effects of the morning after pill is fatigue, this should only affect you for a day or two, if the fatigue is exceptionally severe and you find it hard to perform any movement, please consult a doctor.
A pill that contains levonorgestrel can cause some dizziness and vomiting while the medicine is taking effect, the same side-effects are known to occur with combination contraceptive pills, this symptom should wear off within the first three days.
Around 20 percent of women experience vomiting after taking the morning after pill. If vomiting occurs within two hours of taking the medication, you should contact your doctor as it’s possible that the medication was not absorbed and you’ll need an additional dose. If vomiting occurs within one hour of taking the emergency contraceptive pill, it’s generally recommended that an anti-nausea medication be given and the emergency contraceptive pill be given again.
- Irregular periods
One of the major drawbacks of the emergency contraceptive pill, particularly when taken frequently, is that it may cause your periods to become irregular and unreliable. It can make your next period come up to a week late or early, make the bleeding heavier or lighter, depending on which time of your cycle you take the morning after pill.
- Excessive bleeding
It is a known fact about these pills that they also on rare occasions are known to cause excessive bleeding once taken. Although, this should only last a couple of days. If the bleeding lasts longer than two days, consult a doctor immediately, this could be a sign of something more serious.
Can I get the emergency contraceptive pill in advance?
You can get the emergency contraceptive pill in advance of having unprotected sex if:
- Worried about your contraceptive method failing
- you’re going on holiday
- you can’t get hold of emergency contraception easily
Does the morning after pill affect my period?
The morning after pill may not only cause irregular spotting and bleeding but it may also have an impact on your next period. Although most women still have their period on time, you may have it several days later or earlier than usual. If your period is more than five days late you should speak to a doctor who will check whether you are pregnant. The same applies if you have a very light or heavy period.
When do I need to see a doctor?
You need to speak to a doctor after taking a morning after pill if:
- You experience an allergic reaction (may cause skin rash, facial swellings and difficulty breathing).
- Your next period is more than 5 days late or very light.
- Have had unprotected sex with someone who may have a sexually transmitted disease.
- Vomit or have diarrhea within three hours of taking the tablet.
- Experience side effects which bother you or which persist after the treatment.