Emergency Contraception

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Things happen. You forget to take your birth control pills, a condom breaks or slips off, or you had unplanned sex and don’t have birth control at all. That’s where emergency contraception comes in.

Emergency contraception keeps you from becoming pregnant after you had sex without using birth control. It doesn’t cause an abortion; it stops you from becoming pregnant in the first place.

There are two kinds of emergency contraception:

Copper Intrauterine Device (IUD)

The copper IUD is the most effective form of emergency contraception. Its brand name is ParaGard. It works to make the sperm less likely to fertilize the egg. It needs to be inserted by a doctor within five days of having unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy. Once it’s inserted, you can use it for ongoing birth control protection that lasts up to 10 years. If you decide you want to become pregnant, you can have your doctor remove the IUD at any time.

Emergency Contraception (EC) or Morning After Pills

There are three kinds of EC pills. The sooner you take them after unprotected sex, the better they work:

  • Ulipristal – This is the most effective type of EC pill. It affects how the hormone progesterone works in your body and is thought to delay or prevent ovulation. You can take it up to five days after unprotected sex for it to be effective. The brand name for ulipristal is ella, and it is available by prescription only.
  • Progestin-only – This pill should be taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex. It works best within three days and is still moderately effective within five days Progestin is a hormone in birth control pills that works to stop or delay ovulation. This pill is available without a prescription and can usually be found in the family planning section of the grocery store or drug store under a variety of brand names.
  • Combined hormonal birth control pill – Many brands of combined hormonal birth control pills can be used for emergency contraception. If you have these pills, ask your doctor or at the pharmacy counter if the brand you have will work as morning after pills and, if so, how many should you take and when should you take them.

How Often Can You Use Morning After Pills?

You can use morning after pills more than once during a single menstrual cycle, but they aren’t designed to be used as long-term birth control pills. They aren’t as effective at preventing pregnancy as standard birth control methods when you use them correctly. If you need a long-term birth control method, talk to your doctor about what’s best for your lifestyle. There are many options to choose from.

For more information on emergency contraception, visit www.not-to-late.com or talk to your doctor.

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