Sexual activity is a normal, healthy part of life. It should be fun and pleasurable for you and your partner. But it can also be risky if you or your partner do certain things that could spread disease or cause physical or emotional harm.
Unprotected Sex refers to having vaginal, anal, or oral sex without a condom. It makes you more likely to get pregnant and have sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) including HIV. Bodily fluids like blood and semen pass from you to your partner during sex.
Depending on where you are in your cycle, there is about a 20 percent chance of getting pregnant from intercourse without a condom. If your partner has HIV or another STD, even if they don’t know it, they can pass the virus or infection to you.
What is Morning-After Pill?
The morning-after pill is a medication that can be used as emergency contraception (birth control). Emergency contraception isn’t the same as typical birth control pills that you might use daily or other forms of routine birth control. It’s used in situations where your birth control has either failed or you were unable to use protection. Some situations where emergency contraception might be used can include:
- Experiencing birth control failure (a broken condom, forgotten birth control pill, or missed dose of the birth control shot).
- Experiencing non-consensual sexual intercourse (rape).
- Having sexual intercourse without any form of birth control.
How does the morning after pill work?
The morning after pill works by stopping or delaying your ovary from releasing an egg. It might also stop the sperm from reaching an egg that has already been released.
If the sperm has already fertilised the egg, it is too late and the pill won’t work.
The morning after pill is for emergency contraception only. It doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
How to take the morning after pill
Follow the morning-after pill’s instructions. If you use Plan B One-Step, take one Plan B One-Step pill as soon as possible and less than 72 hours after unprotected sex. If you use Ella, take one Ella pill as soon as possible and less than 120 hours after unprotected sex.
If you vomit within two hours after taking the drug, call a healthcare professional to find out if you should repeat the dose.
With morning-after pills, you may also have some unexpected bleeding. It should go away by the time of your next period. However, it is possible that levonorgestrel may cause your next period to be heavier or lighter than usual. It may also come earlier or later than is normal for you.
What Happens If I Took The Morning-After Pill And Then Had Unprotected Sex?
A lot of things can go wrong if you take the morning-after pill before you had sex because taking it incorrectly can result in an unwanted pregnancy. For progestin-only pills, like Plan B One-step, Next Choice, and Take Action, you should take them as soon as possible after sex and not more than five days afterward. They are less effective in those who weigh more than 165 pounds.
The second group of the morning-after pill is the combined estrogen/progesterone pills. Depending on the type of pill used, you need to take two to four pills as soon as possible after unprotected sex and then another two to four pills 12 hours later.
Once again you want to take these as soon as possible after the event and not more than five days later. They are less effective than the other two methods and have more side effects.
The third group of the morning-after pill is the antiprogestin pill called Ella. It requires a prescription and once again can be taken up to five days after sex. You cannot take any type of hormonal contraceptive for five days following this medication. Ella is more effective in heavier women than the other two pill options.
Do I need a follow-up after taking the morning-after pill?
Yes. If you have taken the morning after pill and then had unprotected sex, it’s a good idea to make an appointment to talk to your doctor, or to go to sexual health or family planning clinic.
They can help with:
- a pregnancy test to check that the morning after pill was effective
- a screening test for STIs
- longer-term contraception
- your contraception needs immediately after taking the morning after pill
Are morning-after pills safe?
Yes. In 1997, the Food and Drug Administration reviewed the evidence and concluded that emergency contraception pills are safe and effective. In 2006, the FDA approved the sale of Plan B/My Way over the counter (OTC).
If you happen to already be pregnant and take emergency contraception, the hormones in emergency contraception pills have been shown not to affect the baby.
Emergency contraception pills might not be a good option for you if you have a history of allergy to the medication, if you are significantly overweight, or if the unprotected sex occurred more than 120 hours earlier. There are no known medical conditions for which emergency contraception is unsafe.
Remember, even if it’s been more than 120 hours, and the episode occurred at mid-cycle, the chances of becoming pregnant are still low (less than 10%).
Morning After pill Side Effects
The main unpleasant side effects that the morning-after pill can cause include:
- Abdominal pain
- Bleeding between periods
- Breast tenderness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Irregular period, starting earlier or later than usual.
Although rare, other side effects can also occur, such as urticaria, itchiness, facial swelling, pelvic pain, painful menstruation, or the formation of blisters on the skin.
What to do about the morning-after pill side effects
Some side effects can be treated and even prevented, as follows:
Breast tenderness: To relieve breast pain, apply warm compresses or take a warm bath, massaging the breast area.
Headache and abdominal pain: If the pill causes side effects like headaches or abdominal pain, painkillers such as acetaminophen are recommended.
Nausea and vomiting: You should eat soon after taking Plan B to reduce any related nausea. If nausea occurs, a home remedy may be prepared and taken, such as ginger or clove tea with cinnamon, or antiemetic medication.