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How Effective Is A Morning After Pill? Let’s Find Out

Do morning after pills work? This is undoubtedly one of the most googled questions regarding the morning after pill effectiveness, and we cannot blame anybody as awareness about morning after pills is scanty. Realizing this, we decided to do a little research of our own, and come up with necessary details that one, about to take or considering to take a morning after pill, ought to know. We hope this helps. :)

Suggested read: #ExpertSpeak Everything You Need To Know About Getting An IUD

But do they work?

Okay, first of all, no contraceptive will every work in all the cases, there will always be exceptions. Having said that, morning after pills are one of the most effective contraceptive methods to help prevent unwanted conceptions. However, one has to be careful about when they take the pills, that is the time limits.

Morning after pills’ effectiveness is directly proportional to how soon post sex you have taken it, if you have had unprotected sex.

Morning after pills effectiveness

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Morning after pills or day after pills is a method of emergency contraception which if taken in the first few days after having unprotected sex,. It decreases the chances of you getting pregnant. The effectiveness of the pill depends on two things: One, how quickly you take it, and two, the superiority of the pill you take.

Usually, a progestin-only morning pill such as Plan B One-Step or Take Action or even the Next Choice One Dose is very effective in comparison to other contraceptive pills. More effective than these pills are antiprogestin pills. One of the most popular of these is ella.

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The treatment provided by the aforementioned progestin-only morning pills have a record of 7 of 8 unwanted pregnancies being prevented. Thus, one can say that there is an 88 per cent effectiveness of these morning after pills to prevent unwelcome pregnancies.

If one takes these progestin-only day after pills within the first 24 hours after the sexual act, the risk of conception is lowered up to 95 per cent.

In the case of ella, if taken within the first 24 hours after sex, then the risk of getting pregnant is reduced 65 per cent lower than the risk in the case of progestin-only pills like Next Choice.

If ella is taken within 72 hours or 3 days after having sex than the risk of conception is still 42 per cent lower than the risk of conception in the case of progestin-only pills taken during the same time limit.

According to scientific studies, ella remains effective even when taken 5 days or 120 hours after sex.

The other factor on which the effectiveness of the morning pill depends, a very important factor, is where the individual woman stands in her own menstrual cycle when she takes the pill.

Your position in the menstrual cycle determines how effective the morning after pill will be in averting the unwanted pregnancy. If you are about to ovulate, your risk of getting pregnant is higher than in other cases. Also, if you are close to ovulation, you cannot afford to wait 5 days to take the ella pill and expect it to work as efficiently as in the case of a woman who is not ovulating any time soon.

When compared, ella is far more effective than progestin-only pills if the woman is close to ovulation, but even in this case, ella will not work as effectually. Since it is difficult to know how close one is to ovulating, it is best to take an emergency contraceptive pill (no matter which one) as soon as you can, after sex.

There are also EC pills that have both progestin as well as estrogen in them. These are generally called “combined” pills. These have been tested to reduce chances of a pregnancy by 75 per cent. To make it simpler to understand, let us say 100 women use these combined pills after having unprotected sex. After taking the pills, only 2 of them are likely to not be able to avert the pregnancy.

The insertion of copper-Ts while having sex is a common contraceptive method, and it is effective too, since it reduces the chances of contraception by 99 per cent.

Though taking morning after pills is effective as well as safe, they cannot be compared with birth control pills (taken before sex) or condoms (worn during sex), when it comes to preventing an unwanted pregnancy. For instance, if one were to rely on emergency contraception alone for birth control for a year, then her annual risk of conceiving will be 20 per cent with a Plan B One-Step or other progestin-only morning after pills. But with a combined pill, the risk goes up to 40 per cent. Now, this is true even if you have taken the morning after pills religiously, immediately after having unprotected sex.

That is why, if you are someone who is sexually active but does not want a pregnancy, then you must opt for a more regular mode of contraception instead of morning after pills.

Morning after pill effectiveness cannot be measured accurately, and according to a few researchers, what is claimed on the label of the bottles containing the pills is not always precise. The effectiveness might be lower than the assertions.

Factors which can reduce the effectiveness of a morning after pill

The effectiveness of the drug depends on a number of factors besides the quality of the pill and the duration in which the pills are taken after unprotected sex. Let us have a look at some of these factors.

1. Vomiting

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 Those of you who have taken a morning after pill will know how nauseated one feels. It causes vomiting, and this reduces the pills effectiveness because if you vomit before the pill is absorbed by your body, then quite naturally, the pill will not work.

If this does happen, then visit your doctor and ask them whether you should take an additional dose.

As a general rule, if within 3 hours of taking an EC pill you vomit, then you need to take a second dose.

2. A Body Mass Index exceeding 22

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Some studies show that if someone has a high body mass index or BMI, then the effectiveness of a morning after pill is reduced.

According to the stats, ellaOne is more beneficial to avert unwanted pregnancies among women with a higher BMI than Levonelle. So if you have a high Body Mass Index, then it is advisable that you go for an ellaone pill instead of a Levonelle.

Also, for women with a high BMI, Copper Ts are more effective when it comes to preventing an unwanted pregnancy than emergency contraceptive morning after pills.

Suggested read:What You Need To Know About Addyi, The Female Libido Pill

3. Side effects of some other medications

If you are taking medications like HIV Drugs (for example, Ritonavir or even medicines that suppress immune system), St John’s Wort, Rifabutin and other Tuberculosis drugs, Seizure preventing meds such as Barbiturates, then the effectiveness of the morning after pill is likely to be lowered.

If you are taking the above-mentioned meds, then do talk to your gynecologist or the pharmacist before purchasing the EC pill.

4. Standing health concerns

If you are someone who has a severe liver illness, then the morning after pill is a complete no-no. The same rule applies to those suffering from porphyria, those with stomach issues like Crohn’s illness, or with hormonal problems and imbalances. Also, if you are someone who has certain allergies or a condition that affects the digestion of food, then the EC pills are not suitable for you, and you should look at other contraceptive methods.

Also, it is advisable to discuss your condition with your gynecologist before taking any step.

Risk factor

Yes, EC pills are safe, but the major drawback is that they alter your menstrual cycle. Especially, if one takes these pills often, chances are high that their periods will be irregular.  This wreaks havoc on your health, both physical and mental. The morning after pill might cause your period to be preponed by a week or postponed by the same number of days. It can also cause the bleeding to be scantier or disturbingly heavy.

Morning after pills are only for emergency use

Hence the name Emergency Contraceptive Pills! They are very effective when it comes to preventing an unwanted pregnancy after unprotected sex, as we just discussed, but they will always be less effectual that contraceptive methods like condom or birth control pill. So do not use these EC pills very often as their effectiveness also reduces if this is your main contraceptive method.

Emergency contraception, thus, should be relied on only during emergencies. And even when you decide to opt for this method of contraception, it is advised that you visit your doctor immediately and talk to them about it, so that your decision regarding the mode of contraception is an informed one.

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That is all we have on this post about morning after pill effectiveness.

Was this helpful? Let us know in the comment section. Also, if we missed out on some details or if you have questions for us, please feel free to drop your questions below.

Here’s wishing you a healthy and happy you! :)

Featured image source: Google, copyright-free image, under Creative Commons License 

Article Name
Morning After Pill Effectiveness: How Effective Are Emergency Contraceptive Pills?
Morning after pill effectiveness cannot be measured accurately, but here are a few factors that reduce and enhance its efficiency.
Riya Roy

Riya Roy

“If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn't brood. I'd type a little faster.” This Isaac Asimov line, embraces my love for writing in the finest and most desperate way that it is and should be! I was tormented by the earnestness of the written word not very early in my journey. But once smitten, it has helped me devour life twice over; savoring the moment and indulging in its memories. As a flâneuse, I wander to understand the intricacies of human relationships. Realizing that, they are just different manifestations of the same feeling of love, has been my greatest learning. I seek to share its opulence through the words I type.