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Emergency Contraception: a Safe and Effective Way to Prevent Pregnancy

The pill, condom, vaginal ring, etc., - by means of using these things, you might protect yourself from unplanned pregnancies. However, is there a way of not getting expectant in case these methods of contraception have turned out to be ineffective?

Well, you can turn to the so-called "emergency contraception" in case of either having unprotected sex or using a method of contraception that has failed (for instance, the missed pill or broken condom). Sounds interesting? Well, let's discuss emergency contraception from A to Z.

P.S. In order to protect yourself from unplanned pregnancy, make sure to use safe, effective, and original contraceptive devices.

What Is Emergency Contraception?

Above anything else, let us define what is emergency contraception. In simple words, it is a birth control method that can be used AFTER unprotected sex. Unlike most other methods of contraception (starting from fertility awareness and ending with sterilization) that help to prevent pregnancy "beforehand," emergency contraception does not allow a woman to get pregnant "afterward."

Therefore, emergency contraception might be used under the following circumstances:

  • In case no birth control method has been used before having unprotected sex;

  • In case of suspecting the possibility of contraceptive failure;

  • In case the birth control method failed;

  • In case of undergoing a sexual assault;

  • Etc.

A person who would like to use emergency contraception has to correspond with the following medical eligibility criteria: any woman of reproductive age who needs to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex.

P.S. Each patient has to consult with a health care practitioner before undergoing emergency contraception in order to make sure that it is safe in their individual case.

Main Types of Emergency Contraception and Their Working Principle

There exist two main types of emergency contraception, namely:

  • The usage of copper intrauterine devices (or copper IUDs, as it is also called);

  • The intake of emergency contraceptive pills (or the so-called "morning-after" pills).

P.S. While abortion, in its turn, is not regarded as an emergency contraception method. The main reason for it is that it stops the existing pregnancy, while emergency contraception prevents it from occurring.

Both methods of emergency contraception that are mentioned above have different working principles. So, let's take a closer look at them.

The Copper IUD

Copper T 380 A (Eurogine)              Copper TT 380 Slimline IUD

The copper IUD is a T-shaped device that should be inserted into the uterus of a patient with the intention of birth control. The main brand that produces copper IUDs is Paragard. Here is how it works: after being placed into the patient's uterus, the copper IUD starts releasing copper ions into both the uterus and Fallopian tubes and, as a result, creates an uninhabitable environment for the sperm.

The usage of the copper IUD might not only serve as emergency contraception but also as a regular birth control method. When being used as a constant way of preventing pregnancy, it provides a patient with the following benefits:

  • Reliability. About 99 percent of patients who use the copper IUD do not get pregnant;

  • Durability. The copper intrauterine device protects patients from unwanted pregnancy for up to ten years, which makes it a long-term birth control method;

  • Reversibility. If patients decide to get pregnant while using the copper IUD, they can simply ask a health care practitioner to take it out;

  • Safeness. In most cases, the usage of the copper intrauterine device does not lead to any serious complications.

  • Etc.

On the other hand, however, the copper IUD does not protect from sexually transmitted infections.

In case a person is using the copper intrauterine device as a form of emergency contraception, they will need to have it inserted within the time period of up to five days after having unprotected sex. In such a case, it will prevent pregnancy with 99 percent effectiveness.

The Emergency Contraceptive Pill

The emergency contraceptive pill is an oral medication that might protect from pregnancy after unprotected sexual intercourse. Thus, it is a non-invasive method of birth control that should be used in the cases of "emergency," such as:

  • You forgot to take your regular oral contraceptive pill;

  • Your partner's condom broke during sexual intercourse;

  • Your partner didn't manage to stop the sexual intercourse before ejaculation;

  • You

  • Etc.

P.S. Please note that pills for emergency contraception should NOT be used on a recurring basis. In other words, they do not belong to regular birth control methods.

Emergency contraception pills might be divided into three main types:

  • Ulipristal pills (The main brand that manufactures ulipristal pills is called Ella. It requires a prescription of a health care practitioner);

  • Levonorgestrel pills (Brands that produce levonorgestrel pills are Take Action, My Way, My Choice, Preventeza, EContra, and many more. Most of them are sold without a prescription);

  • Combined pills.

All the above-mentioned types of emergency contraception pills have their own peculiarities. While some of them require a prescription from a health professional, others might be sold without it.

Here is how emergency contraception pills work:

  • You should take an emergency contraception pill within five days after unprotected sex (however, it is recommendable to take it within three days);

  • After being taken, an emergency contraception pill will affect your menstrual cycle by means of delaying ovulation (which is the process of an egg release);

  • As a result, the sperm will not "meet" an egg, and fertilization will not happen.

The emergency birth control method that involves the intake of a pill ensures the following advantages:

  • Efficiency. It is a pretty effective method of preventing pregnancy;

  • Non-invasiveness. By means of taking a pill, you can get emergency contraception in a non-invasive and pain-free method;

  • Temporality. Despite the fact that a pill serves as a method of contraception emergency, you are expected to have a normal next period, and, as a result, get pregnant;

  • Security. Unless misused too often, emergency contraception pills belong to safe methods of planned parenthood.

P.S. Emergency contraception pills cannot protect you during the rest of your menstrual cycle. Thus, you will nevertheless have to use a regular method of birth control (for instance, a condom or any other barrier method).

Emergency Contraception Benefits

Based on the above-mentioned information, emergency contraception has the following benefits:

  • Safety. You might use emergency contraception with minimal to no risks of severe complications. However, make sure to follow the recommendations of your health care practitioner attentively;

  • Effectiveness. Both copper IUDs and pills of emergency contraception work with more than 90 percent efficiency. Thus, they belong to reliable methods of contraception;

  • Convenience. Most women find emergency contraception to be extremely convenient, mostly because of their minimal invasiveness.

P.S. One more benefit of "morning after" pills is that pharmacists might sell emergency contraception of this type without a prescription from a health care practitioner.

As well, an undeniable advantage of emergency contraception is that it might help you to receive a negative pregnancy test AFTER having unprotected sexual intercourse. This fact makes it a unique birth control method and differentiates it from other ways of contraception like the usage of condoms, the intake of oral contraceptive pills, the tracking of menstruation, and so on.

Risks and Drawbacks of Emergency Contraception

At the same time, copper IUDs, pills, or other methods of emergency contraception might carry certain risks, such as:

  • The possibility of side effects. Despite being pretty safe, emergency contraceptives might lead to certain side effects. For instance, the usage of the copper intrauterine devices might increase menstrual pain;

  • The absence of STDs protection. All devices that are used for emergency contraception protect from sexually transmitted diseases;

  • The pressure of time. The contraception emergency might turn out to be effective only within several days after unprotected sex. In other words, you will still be likely to become pregnant if you get emergency contraception too late than in up to five days after the sexual intercourse.

These are not all the drawbacks of emergency birth control methods. For instance, one more disadvantage of emergency contraceptive pills lies in the fact that they might turn out to be inefficient in case a patient has used hormonal birth control practices within several weeks before unprotected sex. As well, emergency contraception pills are prohibited to be used too often. For example, it is not recommended to use them more than once per period.

Final Words: Emergency Contraception as a Safe and Effective Birth Control Method

All in all, emergency contraception is a distinctive taking control over the possibility to get pregnant. While having a number of benefits and drawbacks, it is absolutely distinctive from all other methods of birth control. The uniqueness of the emergency method of contraception lies in the fact that it might take care of undesired pregnancy even AFTER a person has had unprotected sex. While there exist several methods of emergency contraception (like the copper IUD or the "morning-after" pill), what unites them is that they are safe and effective.

So, remember that the unplanned pregnancy might still be reversed with the help of emergency contraception. Take proper care of your health at all times, as it is the most valuable thing for every person!

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