How the Morning After Pill Works

The morning after pill is a form of emergency birth control most ideally taken the day after unprotected sex to prevent a woman from becoming pregnant. It is also sometimes referred to as the "day after" pill. Its ingredients have similarities to those of birth control pills but they are in larger amounts. Some morning after pills contain two hormones--progestin and estrogen, and some contain only one--levonorgestrel. Those containing levonorgestrel are also commonly called "Plan B" and are available to women 17 years of age and above without a prescription in most pharmacies. Mornings after pills are not to be confused with mifepristone (Mifeprex), which are commonly called the "abortion pill".

The morning after pill consists of two doses taken as soon as possible within 72 hours after unprotected intercourse. To better understand how this form of emergency contraception works and its effectiveness, it is best to discuss information on the effects of its ingredients:

  1. Progestin. This hormone prevents implantation by preventing the sperm from meeting the egg and by preventing the egg that has been fertilized from adhering to the uterine wall.
  2. Estrogen. This hormone inhibits the release of eggs from the ovaries, thereby stopping ovulation.
  3. Levonorgestrel. It's a synthetic progestogen. It is used in emergency contraceptive pills and a regimen called the "Yuzpe regimen" in combination with estrogen, but it is also used without any combination or in a levonorgestrel-only method.

This pill is often used in cases of rape and unplanned intercourse. If a condom breaks or slips off during the act itself, this pill is also used as a method of emergency birth control as soon as possible within 3 days later. If a woman misses two or more birth control pills during a monthly cycle, this can also be used to prevent pregnancy. Common side effects are nausea, vomiting, fatigue, dizziness, abdominal pain, headache and menstrual changes. It has been established that the morning after pill has an 80% effectiveness for preventing pregnancy that might have been caused after unprotected sex.

There are several ways to prevent pregnancy and not many people, especially women, know about this form of emergency contraception. Most forms of birth control and family planning are effective and have been tried and tested, but the best way to avoid pregnancy resulting from unplanned intercourse is to act as quickly as possible. This is why information is the key to dealing with any emergency.

We can all get so wrapped up in emotion that we purposefully ignore the practical aspect of intercourse and the consequences of one-night stands and casual sex. Some of us take sex as lightly as if it were the most natural thing in the world and it probably is, but what is unnatural is how some people have turned it into an inhumane act of violence. Those victims who have felt powerless after a night of non-consensual intercourse now have the power to stop further damage to their lives. Everyone should be informed of the effectiveness of this "emergency pill"; so we can all have the power to choose to reproduce.


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