The only thing that's certain is life's uncertainty. We never know what will happen next, and no matter how prepared we seem to be there are unforeseen circumstances that may crop up along the way. This is why, in everything we do, we should always have an alternative plan handy just in case. Having a go-to plan has been proven to be effective in most cases, even in contraceptives. This is where emergency contraception, most commonly known as The Morning After Pill (MAP), comes in.
The MAP is an oral contraceptive designed to prevent a woman from becoming pregnant after having unprotected sex. It is generally made up of the same hormones that are found in birth control pills, only in a higher dosage. It gives a sudden burst of artificial hormones to alter hormone patterns necessary for a pregnancy to occur.
The pill is expected to work in one of three ways:
- Alters the normal menstrual cycle which, in turn, delays the ovulation process.
- Stops the release of the egg to the ovary.
- Affects the uterus lining in such a way that it would prevent fertilization.
For you to use the MAP effectively, information is key.
- When and how do I take it? The MAP comes in two dosages, one that should be taken up to 72 hours (3 days) after intercourse, and another that should be taken 12 hours after the first pill. Please note, however, that the sooner the pill is taken after intercourse, the higher the chances are for it to be effective. It should be taken with a full meal. Some practitioners think it is best to take the anti-dizziness medication thirty minutes prior to taking the first dose to avoid nausea, as vomiting half an hour after taking the pill can decrease its effectiveness.
- Is it effective? Are there any known side-effects? The MAP has proven to be effective, with a 98% to 99% success rate. However, like other medications, it has a few side-effects. The most common include migraine, dizziness, and headaches. It should be noted that MAP should not be used as a regular birth control method, as it can cause permanent damage to the menstrual cycle. Also, if the MAP does not eliminate the pregnancy, the chances of it being an ectopic pregnancy are significantly higher. It should also be stressed that the MAP is not to be confused with an abortion. The pill does not terminate the pregnancy; rather, it prevents the pregnancy to occur.
- What are the most common brands, and how do I get them? The most common brand of MAP is Plan B, which is available at your local drugstore. Its active ingredient, levonorgestrel, is the same component present in birth control pills. Plan B is available in most drug stores, however, if you are under 17 years of age, you are going to need to present a prescription for this drug to be administered to you. Another brand of MAP is called Levonelle One Stop, which, unlike Plan B and most of the other MAPs, is a single tablet emergency contraceptive. It has the same active ingredient as Plan B, and more or less has the same success rate of 89%.
When taking any form or drug, may it be an oral contraceptive, a regular contraception pill, or an antibiotic, it is always best to be informed on the best medications available for you. While the Morning After Pill has proven to be effective in most occasions, it is important to keep in mind that it is not to be used as a regular form of contraception, and that it does not prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections.