How to Take Emergency Contraceptive Pills to Avoid Pregnancy After 72 Hours

Preventing pregnancy after penis-in-vagina intercourse can be achieved by taking a single emergency contraceptive pill within 120 hours (5 days) post-sexual activity.

Emergency contraception exists in two main forms: over-the-counter and prescription pills meant for oral consumption, as well as intrauterine devices (IUDs) which are inserted by healthcare professionals.

This discussion primarily centers around the use of emergency contraceptive pills.

While medical experts acknowledge the potential impact of weight or body mass index (BMI) on the effectiveness of emergency contraceptive pills, conclusive clinical research has yet to establish a definitive threshold for efficacy.

Thus, healthcare professionals presently lack a precise determination of when emergency contraceptive pills may become less effective or cease to be effective altogether.

Further research is needed to ascertain whether increasing the dosage could enhance effectiveness in individuals with higher weight or BMI.

The copper IUD stands out as a highly effective option for emergency contraception, irrespective of weight or BMI considerations.

If available, consulting with a healthcare professional is advisable. They can provide personalized recommendations for selecting the most suitable emergency contraceptive based on individual circumstances.

Table of Contents

  1. Ulipristal acetate (ella)
  2. Plan B and other levonorgestrel pills
  3. Combination birth control pills
  4. Frequently asked questions
  5. The bottom line

Ulipristal acetate (ella)

Ulipristal acetate, commonly known by its brand name Ella, is a highly effective emergency contraceptive pill used to prevent pregnancy after unprotected intercourse or contraceptive failure. Unlike traditional emergency contraceptive pills like levonorgestrel, which must be taken within 72 hours (3 days) of unprotected sex, ulipristal acetate can be taken up to 120 hours (5 days) after intercourse, providing a slightly extended window of effectiveness.

This medication works by delaying or inhibiting ovulation, the release of an egg from the ovary, thereby preventing fertilization. It may also alter the lining of the uterus to make it less receptive to a fertilized egg. However, it is important to note that ulipristal acetate is not effective if fertilization has already occurred. It does not terminate an existing pregnancy and should not be used as a regular form of contraception.

When taking ulipristal acetate, it is crucial to follow the recommended dosage and administration instructions provided by your healthcare provider or the medication package insert. Typically, a single tablet of ulipristal acetate is taken orally with water, regardless of food intake. It is important to take the medication as soon as possible after unprotected intercourse for maximum effectiveness.

It’s essential to understand that ulipristal acetate is not suitable for everyone. Women with certain medical conditions or contraindications should not use this medication. It is always advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before taking ulipristal acetate to ensure it is safe and appropriate for your individual circumstances.

Furthermore, while ulipristal acetate is highly effective at preventing pregnancy when taken correctly, it does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Therefore, it is essential to use condoms or other barrier methods to reduce the risk of STIs in addition to preventing unwanted pregnancy.

In summary, ulipristal acetate (Ella) is a valuable option for emergency contraception, offering a slightly extended window of effectiveness compared to other emergency contraceptive pills. By understanding how ulipristal acetate works and following proper dosage and administration guidelines, individuals can make informed decisions about their reproductive health and prevent unintended pregnancy when needed.

Plan B and other levonorgestrel pills

Plan B and other levonorgestrel pills, often referred to as “morning-after pills,” are emergency contraceptive options available to individuals who have had unprotected intercourse or experienced contraceptive failure. These pills contain levonorgestrel, a synthetic hormone similar to progesterone, which works primarily by preventing or delaying ovulation, the release of an egg from the ovary. Additionally, levonorgestrel may also alter the cervical mucus and uterine lining, making it more difficult for sperm to reach and fertilize an egg if ovulation has already occurred.

One of the most well-known brands of levonorgestrel emergency contraceptive pills is Plan B One-Step, commonly referred to as Plan B. Plan B is available over-the-counter without a prescription for individuals of all ages in the United States. Other brands of levonorgestrel emergency contraceptive pills include Next Choice, My Way, and Take Action, among others.

To maximize the effectiveness of levonorgestrel emergency contraceptive pills, it is essential to take the medication as soon as possible after unprotected intercourse. Ideally, it should be taken within 72 hours (3 days) of intercourse, although some formulations may be effective up to 120 hours (5 days) afterward. However, the sooner the pill is taken, the more likely it is to prevent pregnancy.

When taking levonorgestrel emergency contraceptive pills, it is crucial to carefully read and follow the instructions provided with the medication. Typically, a single dose of the pill is taken orally with water, regardless of food intake. It is essential to take the entire dose at once and not to split the pill into smaller doses.

It’s important to note that levonorgestrel emergency contraceptive pills are not intended for use as a regular form of contraception and should only be used in emergencies. They are less effective than regular methods of contraception, such as birth control pills, condoms, or intrauterine devices (IUDs), and do not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

While levonorgestrel emergency contraceptive pills are generally safe and well-tolerated, they may cause side effects in some individuals, such as nausea, vomiting, fatigue, breast tenderness, or changes in menstrual bleeding patterns. If you experience severe or persistent side effects after taking levonorgestrel emergency contraceptive pills, it is essential to seek medical attention.

In conclusion, Plan B and other levonorgestrel emergency contraceptive pills are valuable options for preventing pregnancy after unprotected intercourse. By understanding how these pills work and following proper dosage and administration guidelines, individuals can make informed decisions about their reproductive health and take steps to prevent unintended pregnancy when needed.

Combination birth control pills

Combination birth control pills, often simply referred to as “the pill,” are oral contraceptives that contain a combination of synthetic versions of the hormones estrogen and progestin. These hormones work together to prevent pregnancy by suppressing ovulation, thickening cervical mucus to inhibit sperm penetration, and thinning the uterine lining to prevent implantation of a fertilized egg.

The combination birth control pill is typically taken daily, at the same time each day, for 21 to 28 days, depending on the specific formulation. Some packs contain 21 active pills, while others contain 28 pills, including 21 active pills and 7 inactive or placebo pills. During the week of inactive pills, withdrawal bleeding similar to a menstrual period typically occurs.

There are several benefits associated with combination birth control pills beyond pregnancy prevention. These include more regular and predictable menstrual cycles, lighter and less painful periods, reduced risk of ovarian and endometrial cancers, and potential improvement in acne and premenstrual symptoms for some individuals.

In addition to their contraceptive benefits, combination birth control pills are sometimes prescribed for other medical conditions, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, and menstrual disorders like dysmenorrhea (painful periods) and menorrhagia (heavy menstrual bleeding).

However, it’s important to note that combination birth control pills are not suitable for everyone. They may not be recommended for individuals who have certain medical conditions or risk factors, such as a history of blood clots, cardiovascular disease, certain types of migraines, liver disease, or breast cancer.

As with any medication, there are potential side effects associated with combination birth control pills. These can include nausea, breast tenderness, irregular bleeding or spotting, headaches, mood changes, and weight gain. Serious but rare side effects include blood clots, stroke, heart attack, and high blood pressure.

Before starting combination birth control pills, it’s essential to have a thorough discussion with a healthcare provider to determine if they are the right choice for you. They will review your medical history, lifestyle factors, and preferences to help you make an informed decision. Additionally, regular follow-up appointments may be recommended to monitor for any potential side effects and ensure the continued effectiveness of the chosen contraceptive method.

In summary, combination birth control pills are a highly effective and convenient contraceptive option for many individuals. By understanding how they work, their potential benefits and risks, and consulting with a healthcare provider, individuals can make informed decisions about their reproductive health and choose the contraceptive method that best fits their needs and preferences.

Frequently asked questions

Is it feasible to create a “homemade morning-after pill”?

Not exactly. However, the Yuzpe method is sometimes referred to as a “homemade morning-after pill.”

“While it’s better than nothing, it’s the least effective method of emergency contraception,” explains Yen.

Can pregnancy be prevented after 120 hours have elapsed?

Your most viable option might be to opt for a copper IUD.

“IUDs have been authorized for emergency contraception use for up to 120 hours (5 days) following unprotected intercourse in the U.S.,” states Hackel. “However, they’re sanctioned and utilized for up to 168 hours (7 days) after unprotected intercourse in Canada.”

A small-scale 2019 study suggested that inserting a copper IUD up to 14 days (2 weeks) post-sex could aid in preventing pregnancy.

If given the choice, is it preferable to take emergency contraceptive pills or receive an IUD?

“IUDs are the most effective forms of emergency contraception,” asserts Hackel.

Copper IUDs trigger an inflammatory response that proves toxic to sperm, preventing them from ever reaching the egg, as explained by Yen.

Further studies are required to ascertain whether hormonal IUDs can be reliably used as emergency contraception, but a promising 2021 study suggests so.

“Hormonal IUDs contain levonorgestrel, which disrupts sperm and egg transportation through the fallopian tubes, while also rendering the uterine wall inhospitable for implantation,” elucidates Hackel.

The bottom line

Using emergency contraception promptly enhances its effectiveness. However, if 72 hours (3 days) or more have elapsed, there are still options available.

You can utilize any method you have access to within 120 hours (5 days) following intercourse. The ulipristal acetate pill, marketed as ella, emerges as the most effective emergency contraceptive pill after 72 hours (3 days).

In terms of overall effectiveness, the copper IUD stands out as a highly effective form of emergency contraception.