Posted: March 18, 2016 Contributor: administrator

When Should You Take the Morning After Pill?

Even those who consistently practice safe sex are bound to face an accident eventually. There are a number of ways that you may experience this lack of protection ranging from a broken condom to forgetting a week of birth control pills.

Facts about emergency contraception

First, let’s let look at the facts about emergency contraception (better known as the morning after pill). While often confused with the abortion pill, EC is NOT the same. Let’s repeat that one more time for emphasis…the morning after pill is not the same as the abortion pill! Essentially EC works by preventing ovulation (or the release of an egg). If there is no egg present then there is no way for a sperm to fertilize it, right?

Sperm can survive for up to 5 days

Did you know that sperm can actually survive in your system 72 hours after sex to 5 days later? For this reason, there are many different types of EC pills. The two most common are Plan B and ella. Plan B was one of the first EC pills to hit the market and is effective for up to 3 days after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure. In order for it to be most effective, it needs to be taken ASAP. That’s because it loses efficacy with each hour that passes. Plan B is available over-the-counter.

Ella emergency contraception

Ella is a newer form of emergency contraception that is effective for 5 days after unprotected sex. Unlike Plan B, ella remains as effective in the last hour as it does in the first. Currently ella is available by prescription only. If you believe you are at the risk of being pregnant, here are some of the most common situations that lead to morning after pill use. Keep in mind that while emergency contraception is a great tool, it is not intended as a routine form of birth control and should not be taken more than once in a cycle.

The Condom Broke

Even when used properly, condoms are not 100% effective. A condom may rip or tear if it is past it’s expiration date (yes, they DO expire), has become dried out during sex or has been stored in a very hot or dry climate (like a glove box or even a wallet).

You Forgot to Take Two or More Pills

If you are on a form of combination birth control and have forgotten one pill (and took it as soon as you remembered), you are likely not at a risk of becoming pregnant. The mini pill is a different story. You will want to speak with the pharmacist if you have missed one or more. If you have missed 2 or more combination pills, you may want to take the morning after pill to be on the safe side.

You Were the Victim of Sexual Assault

We seriously hope this is NOT the case but if you are the victim of sexual assault or rape, you can greatly reduce your chances of an unplanned pregnancy by taking the morning-after pill. Be sure to reach out to your doctor or a helpline like RAINN to make sure you are mentally and physically on the road to recovery.

You Didn’t Use Any Protection

Let’s face it, sometimes accidents do happen. Maybe you weren’t aware your partner wasn’t wearing a condom or maybe you were. It doesn’t matter the situation—the fact that you didn’t use any protection makes you a prime candidate for the morning after pill. If you are unsure if your particular situation warrants taking the morning after pill. don’t be afraid to call your doctor or pharmacist for a consultation. Accidents happen and when they do, emergency contraception is a great thing to have in your medicine cabinet just in case. 

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