The Morning After Pill
The morning-after pill is a type of emergency birth control used to prevent pregnancy. It is intended as a backup contraception only, not as a primary method of birth control. Please note: The morning-after pill will not terminate a pregnancy that has already implanted. It is not the same thing as RU-486 (the abortion pill), which is a drug that terminates a pregnancy that has already implanted in the uterus.
Focus Women’s Center does not provide the morning-after pill, but if you think you may already be pregnant, FWC can provide you with free pregnancy testing once you have missed your period.
Types: There are two types of morning-after pills. One is available over-the-counter and contains levonorgestrel (such as Plan B One-Stop, Aftera, Take Action, My Way, etc). Levonorgestrel needs to be taken within 72 hours (3 days) of having unprotected sex. The other, ulipristal acetate (ella), is available only with a prescription, but it can be taken up to 120 hours (5 days) after having unprotected sex.
How They Work: Morning-after pills work mainly by delaying or preventing ovulation. The morning-after pill does not end a pregnancy that has already implanted in the uterine lining. However, it can prevent an already fertilized egg from implanting.
Effectiveness: Although it is called the “morning-after pill”, it is actually more effective the sooner you take it. If you take levonorgestrel within 72 hours (3 days) after having unprotected sex, it is 87% effective at preventing an implanted pregnancy. (2) There is some evidence that indicates that if you are overweight, the morning-after pill might not be as effective in preventing pregnancy. Also, using certain medications such as barbiturates or St. John’s wort, can decrease the effectiveness of the morning-after pill.
Side Effects: Morning-after pill side effects usually only last a few days and may include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, headache, tiredness, breast tenderness, lower abdominal pain or cramps, bleeding between periods, and a period that’s lighter, heavier, early, or late. Please note: If your period is more than a week late, it is possible that you might be pregnant. Focus Women’s Center can provide you with free pregnancy testing. Call now to schedule your confidential Pregnancy Verification and Consultation appointment today.
Risks: The morning-after pill does not provide lasting protection against pregnancy. It will not prevent you from getting pregnant if you have unprotected sex after taking it. The morning-after pill also does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases. If you are already pregnant, you should not take the morning-after pill.
(1) Retrieved from Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2020). Morning after pill.
(2) Retrieved from WebMD, LLC. (2020). Levonorgestrel emergency contraception.
(3) Retrieved from Afaxys Pharma, LLC. (2019). Ella ulipristal acetate tablet 30mg.
(4) Retrieved from Foundation Consumer Healthcare. (2019). Plan B one-step: Frequently asked questions.