Emergency contraception is known as the “morning after pill” – for obvious reasons. It was specifically designed for those times when something goes wrong with your contraception, leaving you with the worry of possible pregnancy.
If you have a contraception disaster, the most important thing is to stay calm. Don’t panic – this is exactly what emergency contraception was invented for! The morning after pill works similar to the normal pill that many women use as their contraception method. One major difference is that the morning after pill contains a higher hormonal dosage (>10 times). Another major difference: It’s not a reliable everyday protection. The morning after pill won’t stop your egg meeting his sperm, unlike the normal pill, and doesn’t prevent a fertilized egg from implanting.
So, the morning after pill won’t help if you’ve already ovulated. But what it does is stopping or postponing ovulation. No egg, no fertilization. Emergency contraception can also trigger effects in the uterus, which stop a fertilized egg from implanting itself. However, the morning after pill does not terminate an existing pregnancy.
Emergency contraception will also not protect you from HIV infection (the virus that causes AIDS) and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Use a condom if there is any chance of contracting a sexually transmitted infection.
Let’s check the numbers and facts
Nevertheless, the morning after pill prevents pregnancy from occurring after you have had unprotected sex. It’s most effective if you take it as soon as possible afterwards – preferably within the first 12 to 24 hours. But even after 24 hours its efficacy is still 95%, but it falls to only 58% after 48 hours have passed since you had sex.
Accessing emergency contraception varies depending on the country where you live. In some countries you can buy it over the counter in a pharmacy. In others, you need to see a doctor first and get a prescription.
Consider your options – and what could be best for you!
If you’re feeling scared, helpless, or alone in this situation, it’s all the more important to talk to someone you trust. Confide in them about your worries and fears, even those unrelated to emergency contraception. In this situation many women are terrified of becoming pregnant accidentally after they've experienced a contraceptive problem.
But nothing should push you to have this conversation with your family or friends. If you don’t want them to find out, seek out your healthcare provider or contact a public counseling center. They’re the experts and will definitely be able to help you with confidential advice. Don’t forget – you’re not alone! Find local support
Use the conversation with your healthcare provider or counselor as a calm space where you can talk about your options and what they could mean for your life in the future. Take your time. After all, it’s your choice and only you make this decision.
And if you want to test your knowledge on emergency contraception, why not test yourself with our Facebook Messenger Quiz?