Emergency Contraceptive Pill
Emergency Contraceptive Pill (ECP) commonly known as the 'Morning After Pill" for those patients who may have experienced a sexual encounter within the past 72 hours and are concerned that they may be pregnant, this simple oral medication can greatly reduce their chance of pregnancy. This medication can also be prescribed in advance for those patients who wish to be prepared.
The Morning After Pill contains a hormone called progestin (learn more about these emergency contraceptive pills). This is the only type of pill available specifically for emergency contraception in the United States (sold under the brand names Plan B, Plan B One-Step, and Next Choice). Progestin-only pills can reduce your risk of getting pregnant by 89%.
When do I need ECP?
ECPs are meant to be used as emergency contraception. Some situations where this method would be appropriate include:
- If a condom breaks, slips, leaks, or falls off during intercourse
- If you diaphragm slips out of place during intercourse
- If you forgot to take your birth control pills
- If you had sex when you did not expect to and did not use any birth control during intercourse
- If you were forced to have sex
If you experience any of the above situations, your risk of becoming pregnant depends on which day in your menstrual cycle that you had sex. The days when you are most likely to get pregnant are right in the middle of your menstrual cycle--about 14 days after the start of your last period. If you have unprotected sex during these days, there is a high chance that you could get pregnant.
The "morning after pill" can cut down the risk of pregnancy to about 80% if taken within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse. The "morning after pill" can also be used for an additional 2 days, however the effectiveness rate declines with each passing day.
This time period is very important. If you have had unprotected sex more than once since your last period, and at least one of those times was more than 5 days ago, you may already be pregnant. If you are already pregnant, ECPs will not work. For instance, if you had unprotected sex on Saturday night, you could use ECPs until Thursday night. In general, however, the sooner you use them, the more effective they are.
What is Plan B®?
At Family Planning Associates Medical Group, we use Plan B® ("morning after pill") for emergency contraception. Plan B is the first progestin-only emergency contraception to be approved by the FDA.
Plan B (levonorgestrel) may prevent pregnancy by temporarily stopping the release of an egg from a woman's ovary, or it may prevent fertilization. It may also prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus. Plan B will not work if you are already pregnant.
Plan B does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases. It should not be used in place of regular contraception. Correct and consistent use of regular contraception is more effective.
How do I take Plan B®?
Plan B can be provided by FPA through a scheduled office visit. Upon arrival, you will complete a brief medical history and then be given a package of Plan B (two pills). You should swallow the first dose (one pill) from the package, up to 5 days after intercourse, but optimally within 72 hours. The second pill should be taken 12 hours after the first pill. You also have the option of taking both pills at the same time.
We recommend that you schedule an appointment for a complete gynecological exam, including a breast exam and a Pap Smear test, after your next period, if you have not done so in the past year.
It is very common to have side effects when using the "morning after pill". Some common side effects are nausea and vomitting, breast soreness, a headache, dizziness, break-through-bleeding, bloating, abdominal pain, tiredness and menstrual irregularities. These side effects are not long-term and are not to be considered serious. Your next period may start a few days earlier or a few days later than usual.