The 'morning after pill', also known as emergency contraception, helps prevent pregnancy if you haven't used protection (a condom) while having sex or if you think the contraception has failed for some reason. Though a number of people talk about this as something that needs to be taken immediately in the morning that follows, there are options that can even be taken up to 5 days after unprotected sex.
Levonelle is one of the leading medicines in this category of pills that primarily contain a hormone called progestin. You need to take a pill as soon as possible after sex to reduce your risk of pregnancy. To make the best use of these it's a good idea to consult your gynecologist. This option is effective up to 3 days (72 hours) after having sex, although it is most effective when taken immediately afterwards.
ellaOne, which contains ulipristal acetate, is a progesterone-only oral contraceptive pill available in the EU. It is a well-tolerated drug and has been found to be very effective for up to 5 days (120 hours) after sex. As with all emergency solutions, the sooner you take it the more effective it is.
The effectiveness of these pills has been backed by various studies. They are very effective if taken on the first or second day after sex but begin to lose effectiveness after that. The longer the timeframe between contraceptive failure and using this medication, the more you increase your chance of becoming pregnant. It's important to understand that none of the emergency contraception on the market can promise 100% success in terms of being able to avoid pregnancy but the rate of failure is not very high.
To judge the effectiveness of using one of these options, you must wait for your next menstrual period. If it doesn't occur within 2-4 weeks of having taken the pill, you might be pregnant and need to undergo a pregnancy test.
The most common side effect of taking this medication is nausea or headache. Other side effects can include stomach ache, diarrhoea, dizziness, fatigue, and breast tenderness. Most symptoms aren't bothersome and only last for a short time. Frequently, patients suffer from no side effects at all.
Before taking this pill consult your gynecologist or doctor. He/she can be the best person to advise you as to whether it is the right option for you or not. Before taking it, make sure that you aren't allergic to any of the ingredients of this medication. A doctor may recommend that you don't use this medication if you are suffering from a condition of the bowel/gut which can result in malabsorption. A woman suffering liver disease is also advised against taking this. Inform your doctor about any medications you are currently taking, both prescription and over the counter.