In the world of contraception, emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs) have become a household name, commonly known as the “morning after pill.” But what happens if this last-minute option fails? “Will the morning after pill harm the baby if it fails?” is a common question that arises. Does it have any impact on a developing fetus? In this blog post, we’ll dive into the science behind ECPs and explore the risks, safety, and alternatives if emergency contraception fails to prevent pregnancy.
Understanding the Morning After Pill
Emergency contraception is a backup plan designed to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sexual intercourse or contraceptive failure. The morning after pill is one of the most popular forms of emergency contraception, which includes three distinct types: Plan B, ulipristal acetate, and levonorgestrel. Taking emergency contraception, such as the morning after pill, can be an effective way to prevent pregnancy in these situations.
It is crucial to keep in mind that the morning after pill should not be used as a regular form of contraception, and it does not provide protection against sexually transmitted infections. Some potential side effects may include:
- Breast tenderness
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
The effectiveness of emergency contraceptive pills varies depending on the type and timing of use. Here are the recommended time frames for different types of emergency contraceptive pills.
- Plan B: should be taken as soon as possible within 72 hours (three days) of having unprotected sex.
- Ulipristal acetate: can be taken up to 120 hours after unprotected sex..
- Levonorgestrel: should be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex..
How Emergency Contraceptive Pills Work
Emergency contraceptive pills, also known as the emergency contraceptive pill, provide the same medication as regular birth control pills to inhibit pregnancy. They are designed to be taken in cases of emergency. They primarily work by:
- Preventing or delaying ovulation, which is the release of an egg during the menstrual cycle
- Levonorgestrel serves to delay the release of an egg
- Ulipristal acetate inhibits progesterone from functioning as normal, thus preventing or delaying the release of an egg.
It is important to note that the morning after pill does not terminate a pregnancy that has already occurred. If you suspect you might be pregnant, it is essential to take a pregnancy test to confirm the result. The morning after pill does not terminate an existing pregnancy as the abortion pill does. So, the morning after pill and the abortion pill (medical abortion) are not the same thing.
By preventing ovulation, fertilization, and implantation, emergency contraceptive pills (the morning after pill) helps reduce the chances of an unplanned pregnancy. However, their effectiveness depends on prompt use after unprotected sex.
Effectiveness of Emergency Contraception
The effectiveness of emergency contraception is highly dependent on how soon it is taken after unprotected sex. Plan B, for example, is effective when utilized correctly following unprotected sex, and its effectiveness increases when taken as soon as possible after unprotected sexual intercourse. With proper use, the morning after pill pill has an efficacy of approximately 91%. When used correctly as a daily contraception method, the birth control pill is more than 99% successful.
Levonorgestrel emergency contraception (LNG-EC), taken within 72 hours post-unprotected sex, has been found to prevent 75% to 85% of pregnancies that would have occurred in the absence of this treatment. It is crucial to understand that emergency contraception is not guaranteed to prevent a pregnancy, and it is not the same as the abortion pill. If you suspect you might be pregnant, it is important to take a pregnancy test to confirm the result. And, it’s best to go see a medical professional to confirm pregnancy as soon as possible.
Impact on a Developing Fetus
Research has shown that there is no noteworthy detriment or risk of birth defects when taking the morning after pill (if the pregnancy has already taken place). . A study assessing the effect of LNG-EC exposure on pregnant women and their fetuses found that LNG-EC does not appear to have any substantial effects on the physical and mental development of a developing fetus, nor the occurrence of congenital malformations.
The initial study was conducted to assess the effect of LNG-EC exposure on pregnant women and their fetuses, as well as its impact on the menstrual cycle. It is essential to take a pregnancy test if you suspect you might be pregnant, as the morning after pill does not terminate an existing pregnancy. It can just prevent an unintended pregnancy.
Alternative Emergency Contraception Methods
In addition to the morning after pill, there are alternative emergency contraception methods available, such as the copper intrauterine device (IUD). The IUD is a T-shaped plastic and copper device that is inserted into the uterus to prevent fertilization and implantation of an egg.
The IUD is the most effective emergency contraceptive, with fewer than 1% of women using it becoming pregnant. However, it is important to take a pregnancy test if you suspect you might be pregnant, as the probability of miscarriage rises to approximately 40% and the likelihood of preterm birth increases by a factor of 500% if an IUD is left in during an existing pregnancy.
Alternative emergency contraception methods, such as the copper IUD, offer individuals more effective or long-term solutions if they are seeking options beyond the morning after pill.
What to Do If Emergency Contraception Fails
If emergency contraception fails to prevent pregnancy, it is advised to consult a physician to explore available options. Medical professionals can help individuals consider other alternatives, such as medication abortion, which involves the use of specific medications, such as the abortion pill (Mifeprex), to terminate a pregnancy if desired.
It is important to understand that medication abortion is not regarded as regular contraception and should not be used as a primary method of birth control. Instead, individuals should use consistent and reliable birth control methods to prevent unplanned pregnancies.
If emergency contraception fails, seeking medical advice and considering other available options can help individuals make informed decisions about their reproductive health.
Preventing Future Unplanned Pregnancies
To prevent future unplanned pregnancies, it is essential to utilize regular contraception methods, such as:
- long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) like an intrauterine device (IUD)
- permanent contraception methods like tubal ligation (having your tubes tied)
- Th birth control pill
In order to prevent unplanned pregnancy, it is recommended to:
- Provide individuals with education on regular contraception methods
- Offer services that include a full range of FDA-approved contraceptive methods
- Provide family planning services
This can help ensure that individuals find the right method of contraception for their needs and maintain their reproductive health.
By using consistent and reliable birth control methods, individuals can greatly reduce the likelihood of unplanned pregnancies and the need for emergency contraception in the future.
Understanding the science behind emergency contraceptive pills and its potential risks can empower individuals to make informed decisions about their reproductive health and take charge of their fertility and whether and when to become pregnant. So, whether you’re seeking emergency contraception or exploring other options, remember that knowledge is power.
If you have questions about this article or your options when dealing with an unexpected pregnancy, please call us at 1-888-OPENARMS and we will be there for you every step of the way.
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