Emergency Contraception – Types, Side Effects And Effectiveness

Many women have unintended or unplanned pregnancies each year, partly because they lack the general knowledge of emergency contraception. If emergency contraception is used within seventy-two hours after having unprotected intercourse, the risk of pregnancy will be reduced by more than eighty percent. This article will give you information on how the emergency contraception would work, the types available, as well as their side effects and effectiveness.

Emergency Contraception – Types, Side Effects and Effectiveness

plan b emergencyYou can use emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy after having sex without protection or if a contraceptive method has failed. It could be that you forget to take a pill or a condom broke. Also called the morning after pill, the emergency contraception will not abort a pregnancy but will work to delay or prevent the release of an egg (ovulation). Moreover, the emergency contraception will not protect you against Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).

There are currently two types of emergency contraceptives available: the emergency contraceptive pill and the intrauterine device (IUD or coil). You have two kinds of pill to choose from, the Levonelle that you have to take within three days or seventy-two hours of sex, and the Ella that you should take within five days or one hundred and twenty hours.

You can insert the IUD into your uterus as many as five days after having unprotected sex or after the earliest period you could ovulate. It might stop egg fertilization or implantation.

Side Effects

There are no serious side effects or long term health problems associated with the use of emergency contraceptive pills. However, you could experience some mild side effects which generally don’t require medical attention.

These include common side effects such as headache, abdominal pain, irregular menstrual periods (heavy bleeding or spotting before the next one is due), tiredness, and a sick feeling.

You might also experience some of the less common side effects such as dizziness, breast tenderness, and vomiting.

You should seek medical help if you vomit two to three hours after taking any emergency contraception pill.

Ella or Levonelle can cause you to experience tiredness, dizziness, nausea, headaches, abdominal pain or tenderness of the breasts. Both can also cause your period to come later or earlier than normal.

If you are using the IUD as your emergency contraception, you could leave it in as a regular contraceptive method.

Bear in mind, though, that as a regular contraception method, it can cause you to have heavier, more painful or longer periods. You might experience some discomfort after inserting the IUD.

Be sure to contact your doctor if you are worried about any of the symptoms above after using the emergency contraceptive pill.


It is a bit difficult to know the number of women who don’t get pregnant after using the emergency pill because there is really no way to find out for sure how many would have conceived otherwise. However, it is important to remember that emergency contraception will be more effective when it’s taken as early as possible after sex.

The two types of emergency contraception can be effective at preventing pregnancies if they are used immediately after unprotected sex. Research shows that less than one percent of women get pregnant after using the IUD, while pregnancies after emergency contraceptive pills are not so rare. The Ella is said to be more effective than the Levonelle.

A Copper IUD is also quite effective as an emergency contraception if it’s inserted within five days after unprotected intercourse. However, you would have to make an appointment with a nurse or a doctor to get it inserted.

Who Can Use Emergency Contraception?

This can be used by most women, including those who are not able to use the hormonal contraception. This includes hormonal contraception such as the patch and combined pill. The emergency contraceptive pill can also be used by girls under sixteen years old.

If you’re already using the vaginal ring, injection or pill and forget to take a dose or do proper insertion, then you might have to take the morning after pill.

You should contact your nurse or doctor if you believe that you are pregnant, your period is lighter or shorter than normal, your next period is late for over seven days, or you are experiencing any unusual or sudden pain in the lower abdomen. The latter might be a sign that you have an ectopic pregnancy, which happens if an egg gets fertilized and implants itself outside of the womb. This pregnancy is not common, but it is serious and would require immediate medical attention.

When you are ready to use emergency contraception, you can get the pill and IUD free from your GP surgery, a sexual health clinic, or a contraception clinic. You can also buy them from most pharmacies or drugstores. You can even order it online on Amazon.com.

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One Response

  1. Lucy July 26, 2016

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