There are about four different types of emergency contraceptives on the market today. They are the IUD, RU486 and the morning after pill in both progestin only form and estrogen-progestin form. These methods of emergency contraception are specifically designed to help end unwanted pregnancies almost before they begin. Each of the four emergency contraception types has a different set of advantages as well as various side effects. None of them are 100% effective. To date the only 100% method of any sort of contraception is abstinence. With that being said, the following is some information on the different types of emergency contraception.
This is the classic “Morning After Pill” and all it really is, is a high dose of a combination of progestin and estrogen. The pill is taken two times in a period of twelve hours. A standard oral contraceptive pill which is prescribe in the US called Preven is designed with specific emergency contraception in mind. Most doctors suggest running a pregnancy test which is usually included in the kit prior to using the medication. Keep in mind that the morning after pill is not meant to abort already conceived fetuses, but to prevent conception from happening in the first place. Many people make the erroneous assumption that the morning after pill is actually a form of abortion; nothing could be further from the truth. If this information is a bit confusing to you, don’t be alarmed, you aren’t alone. Talk with your doctor to get a better understanding of the way the medication works.
Side Effects of Morning After Pill
Most doctors will automatically prescribe something for nausea and vomiting to be taken prior to ingesting the morning after pill. This is because the most common side effect is stomach upset which can be quite severe. If you should begin to vomit within one hour of taking the initial dose of the morning after pill, the dose will have to be repeated. The nausea typically subsides after a period of about 24 hours. It is important to keep in mind that this pill is not necessarily suitable for everyone. Women who suffer from an increased risk of blood clots or other serious illnesses as a result of oral contraceptives should not use this particular form of medication.
The morning after pill reduces the possibility of pregnancy by about 75%. If a hundred couples participate in sexual intercourse without using protection and take this pill, only two of them will wind up pregnant, rather than about 7 or 8 which is the expected number.
High Dose Progestin Pill
There is also a prescription in the US which goes by the name Plan B. This medication also comes in a kit along with detailed directions for use and a home pregnancy test. This particular regimen carries a significantly reduced chance of nausea but it is also thought to be less effective than the standard pill. For this reason, most people opt for the estrogen containing pill unless otherwise suggested by their doctor.
RU486 is a medication that has just recently been released within the US market and it is sold under the brand name, Mifepristone. This is a medication which counter-acts with the natural female hormone called progesterone. If taken for 4 days at any point in time between the day ovulation starts and the menstrual period is due it prevents the egg from becoming fertilized. Even though this drug is available on the market, it is not quite as widely used as the above mentioned methods are.
An IUD which contains copper can be inserted anytime within 5 days of unprotected sexual intercourse to prevent an egg from being fertilized inside the uterus. In addition, the IUD will also provide ongoing contraception. It is not only an emergency contraceptive but one which can be used at all times. This method of contraception is strictly intended to monogamous women or to be used in conjunction with condoms. The reason for this is that it offers no protection against STDs. Further, women who suffer from gonorrhea or chlamydia should not use an IUD. There is about a 1 in 1000 chance that a woman using an IUD will become pregnant when using one as an emergency contraceptive.
Pros and Cons Associated With Emergency Conception Methods
There are many pros and cons of using emergency contraceptive methods. The pros are that most of these methods are highly effective. In regards to the IUD, because it not only provides that one time emergency contraception but that it also provides long term protection from pregnancy is a major plus. In addition, by having access to these sorts of alternatives to unwanted pregnancies women can avoid having to make other more difficult decisions later down the road.
The cons of using emergency contraceptives are that with that exception of the IUD, none of the methods mentioned are designed to provide ongoing protection from pregnancy. There is also the fact that none of these methods provide any protection against sexually transmitted diseases to consider. Last but definitely not least, none of these methods are 100% effective. With this being said, if the use of one of these emergency contraceptives is employed and the menstrual period does not begin within three weeks, it may be a great idea to contact the doctor.
It is extremely important to stress that none of these methods should become a crutch or a justification for promiscuous behavior. There is much bigger concerns associated with unprotected sex and pregnancy is the least of them. By making responsible decisions and taking the initiative to make choices using careful thought, these situations can be avoided. This is not to say that everyone who participates in unsafe sex is being irresponsible but in situations where relationships are not monogamous, it can be a deadly game. In conclusion, the best form of preventing unwanted pregnancies is abstaining from sexual relations in the first place. After all, unless you are looking at a case of Immaculate Conception, it takes sexual intercourse to become pregnant.