The correct use of emergency contraceptives

What are emergency contraceptives? 

 Emergency contraceptives help you prevent pregnancy if you had sex without using birth control or if your birth control didn't work. Also, they can be used in instances of unprotected sex, incorrect use of contraceptives and sexual assault. There are two major types of emergency contraceptives:

  1. Intra-uterine device (IUD) 
  2. Emergency contraceptive pills (ECP) 

IUDs are the most effective emergency contraceptives. It however has the disadvantage of needing to visit a gynecologist to insert the device. IUDs are inserted by a trained healthcare professional through a minimally invasive procedure in the clinic following a due consultation. A major advantage of IUDs is their long-term use after insertion. They can be used for up to 5 years after insertion.

However, the emergency contraceptive pills though less effective than the IUDs are easily available and accessible over the counter and superstores.

Emergency contraceptive pills a.k.a morning after pills, Plan B, take action, my choice etc. This medication has helped many couples to avoid billings that comes with pregnancy and childcare. However, the use of same medication has failed in some other people leading to unplanned pregnancy.

Emergency contraceptive pills contains a hormone that works by delaying or stopping the production of an egg (ovulation). This means the pill is ineffective in a female who releases an egg just before or during the intercourse or has ovulated a few days prior to the intercourse. Also, ECP is not an abortion pill, this means it cannot terminate a pregnancy that has occurred. 

Emergency contraceptive pills can fail if it is not taken within (3 days) 72hours after unprotected sex. The earlier the pill is taken the more effective would be. They are called morning-after pills because they are most effective the morning after unprotected sex. However, you don't have to wait for the morning after before taking it, you could use it immediately after the unprotected sex. The pill could make your next period earlier, later or more painful than usual. 

Emergency contraceptive pills are not to be used as a regular form of contraceptive. 

There is no limit to the number of times ECPs can be used by menstrual cycle. However, it is advisable to get a long-term contraceptive because of its relative disadvantages. This includes less effectiveness as compared to other birth control methods, cost and convenience of other birth control methods, relative side-effects such as irregular periods. 

ECPs are generally safe and effective. It is advisable to put in place a long-term contraception as a sexually active adult. There are various options of birth control methods that can be used ranging from hormonal patches, hormonal ring, Combined oral pills, vasectomy etc. Choose a long-term contraceptive birth control method and enjoy pregnancy-free sex life! 

Bolade Alonge

Bolade Alonge is a Pharmacist with experience in clinical practice with certifications in Public Health. She has a keen interest in Sexual and reproductive health education. You can send her an email and connect with her on social media:

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