What You Should Know About The ‘Morning After’ Pill

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You won’t believe how this “Morning after” conversation started. During lunch break with my colleagues we were talking about women related issues from light topics like how long can go without making love to the biological clock ticking and even serious worries like fibroids and cervical cancer – when  should one go for screening.

But as we talked about these different topics, we kind of ended up on the morning after pill. How we got to this discussion is another blog on it’s on (Meaning of Ovulation *someone remind me to write about this too.*)

Many women have at one point worried if they may be pregnant. Why would one worry? This is because they’ve had unprotected sex with their partner and somehow they are not ready to be parents.

That’s when the geniuses  that be created the emergency contraceptive pill – “Morning after pill” that prevents pregnancy after one has had unprotected sex.

However they’re many myths and fears associated with this pill that every woman ought to know.

Some say it isn’t as effective as other methods of contraception and isn’t recommended for routine use. The morning-after pill also doesn’t offer protection from sexually transmitted infections.

According to Mayo Clinic, an estimated 1 to 2 women will become pregnant out of 100 women who have unprotected sex one time and correctly use the morning-after pill.

The morning-after pill isn’t appropriate for everyone. Before you consider using it, tell your health care provider if:

You’re allergic to any component of the morning-after pill

You’re taking certain medications that may decrease the effectiveness of the morning-after pill.

You’re breast-feeding.

Side effects of the morning-after pill may include:
Nausea or vomiting, Dizziness, Fatigue, Headache, Breast tenderness, Bleeding between periods or heavier menstrual bleeding, Lower abdominal pain or cramps and Diarrhea.

Don’t use if…

Dr Tamale Ssali, a gynecologist at Women’s Hospital International and Fertility Centre told The Red Pepper Digest that some individuals should totally avoid using this pill.

Such individuals include those with deep vein thrombosis (clotting in the body) and those with clotting in the heart. In fact, he says, individuals who have any clotting disorder should avoid using the morning-after pill because it may encourage the formation of clots.

Ssali also says women with a history of breast cancer should not use the emergency pill as it contains hormones and breast cancer grows on hormones.

The website www.netdoctor.co.uk points out that the pill is unsafe for women with liver disease. For other women, the pill is largely safe and effective (according to www.netdoctor.co.uk, the pill’s failure rate is below 10%) but women should be aware of the pill’s uncommon side effects such as headache, tummy ache, breast tenderness, vaginal spotting and dizziness.

These symptoms are said to be uncommon but it is best that users are aware of them because it is possible for they can occur. Another side effect could be development of cervical cancer in women with the Human Papyloma Virus (HPV). Studies have shown that oral contraceptives, of which emergency pills are part, increase the risk of a woman developing cervical cancer.

More facts

The pill is wrongly dubbed the morning-after pill because it does not necessarily work if taken the morning after having unprotected sex. It is effective within 72 hours of having unprotected sex though it is most effective when taken within 24 hours of the deed.

This pill, though estimated to be more than 90% effective, is not totally effective. It may fail in some instances and an individual could become pregnant even when they used it. A total dose of the pill contains two pills and these should be taken as prescribed by the pharmacist.

It should also be noted that if one vomits after taking the first of the pills, then it is advisable to get another dosage. The pill works by preventing the release of ova from the ovaries or by irritating the wall of the uterus such that if the ovum has been fertilized, the embryo does not get implanted on the wall of the uterus. As such, no pregnancy occurs.

Myths of the Morning after pill

According to RAHU- Reach a Hand Uganda, a non-profit youth led organization that aims to address the key issues that leave Ugandan youth vulnerable to health outcomes like, HIV, Sexual Transmittable Infections (STIs), and unintended pregnancy below are the pills associated with the pill.

  • The morning after pill causes an abortion.

The pill delays the release of an egg from the ovaries or prevents it from becoming implanted in the uterus. Pregnancy is prevented rather than terminated.

  • You have to take the pill the morning after.

Bit of a misnomer. You can also take the pill up to 72 hours after sex (some doctors say 120 hours after, it depends on the pill).

  • Taking the morning after pill repeatedly can damage your fertility.

There’s no evidence to suggest the pill has any long-term effects on your fertility or anything else. However, if you find yourself having to take the morning after pill regularly, you might want to reconsider your birth control options.

  • You can only use the morning after pill once per menstrual cycle.

The rules on this vary according to which brand of pill you use. Levonelle can be taken more than once per cycle whereas ellaOne cannot.

Now that you know how the pill works, I would advise you to stick to having protected sex or the ABC’s of the sexual life. Abstain, Be faithful, and Condomise.

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