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Everything You Need to Know About Emergency Contraception

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emergency contraception

No matter how good you’re at tracking your durations, being acutely aware of your fertile windows, and educating yourself on all methods of safety, typically things happen. “And that includes sex happening when you didn’t plan it,” says Kate White, MD, MPH, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Boston University. “Which is why everyone has to have a plan B around birth control, whether that’s the real Plan B or something else.”

If you never thought emergency contraception was a subject you’d need to find out about, assume again: White says she firmly believes it’s a preventive software any sexually lively, heterosexual lady who doesn’t have an implant or IUD ought to have available in her drugs cupboard. “Emergency contraception is like a box of bandages,” she says. “You don’t buy bandages when you cut your finger; you buy them in advance so you have them when you need them.”

And whereas White encounters many widespread misconceptions round emergency contraception, she’s keen to dispel one: There’s completely no hurt in using it everytime you want to, even when it’s your primary type of contraception.

“Taking steps to prevent a pregnancy you don’t want is a really responsible act, and for some women who may have sex really infrequently—maybe their partner doesn’t live in the same city as them or they don’t have a regular partner, etc.—taking emergency contraception may be the best option for them. Taking [the pills] back to back will probably throw off your period to a certain degree, which will make it a little harder to predict when your next period is coming, but it doesn’t do any lasting damage.”

Ready to dig into the small print on emergency contraception? Here are your choices:

1. Emergency contraceptive drugs (additionally referred to as “morning-after pills”)

There are a number of several types of morning-after tablets, however in the United States, there are two options: Plan B and Ella. Plan B (additionally referred to as Next Choice) is accessible over-the-counter with no prescription within the U.S., which makes it a extra widespread selection.

The morning-after drugs work by preventing ovulation, however they gained’t be efficient in the event you’ve already ovulated (which you will not know). Plan B is handiest if taken within the first 12 hours after intercourse, nevertheless it does retain some effectiveness for up to 120 hours (5 days) after sex. Ella remains efficient on the similar degree for all five days, however does require a prescription.

While Plan B is simpler to get at any time, it does has a big limitation you might not find out about. “The downside is that Plan B starts to lose effectiveness for those who’re obese with a physique mass index (BMI) of 26 or higher,” says White. (BMI is measure of body fats that’s calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by the square of your peak in meters.) While doubling up on the dose might appear to be the answer, White says it’s unclear if a better dosage will truly enhance the rate of effectiveness in any approach. “Two won’t hurt you, but it’s about $50 a pop and it’s not known whether it’s going to help,” she says.

The different choice, Ella, stays effective on the similar fee for women with BMIs up to 35. It was first developed in Europe and is extra widespread in nations outdoors of the U.S. “It’s great because it’s at least as effective as Plan B in the first day after sex and remains that effective for five whole days after,” says White. “But there’s that wall of a prescription needed and not all pharmacies stock it. If you think you might have a use for it in your life, it’s not unreasonable to ask for a prescription in advance.”

No matter which choice you select, emergency contraception tablets can scale back your danger of being pregnant by anyplace from 52 to 99 %, depending on how quickly you’re taking it and the timing of sex related to your cycle. As White talked about, taking the drugs can throw off your period for a cycle, however it’s your decision to think about taking a being pregnant check for those who don’t get your interval inside six weeks of taking the treatment.

“Taking repeated doses of either Plan B or Ella might make bleeding wonky for a while, which will make it hard to know when your next period is going to come,” says White. “So that might mean taking an extra pregnancy test or two if you’re nervous and having to wait it out, but there’s no harm done by repeating doses.”

If drugs don’t sound like the correct choice for you, then it’s your decision to think about another, lesser-known—however often far more efficient—selection: the copper IUD.

2. Copper IUD

“‘An IUD for emergency contraception?’ you say? “Yes!” exclaims White. “The copper IUD is the most effective form of emergency contraception we have and it’s not only highly effective for five days after sex, but you can then keep it in place if you want to so you’ll have a highly effective form of birth control going forward. If you never saw yourself as an IUD user, getting the copper IUD for emergency contraception doesn’t mean you have to keep it—you can just leave it in for a cycle and then take it out.”

The copper IUD works by preventing fertilization (only the copper IUD, not the hormonal IUD, has been studied as a form of emergency contraception). “It makes it really difficult for sperm to fertilize the egg,” says White. Having a physician insert the copper IUD up to 5 days after intercourse can scale back the danger of being pregnant by up to 99 %. The value of an IUD varies rather a lot relying on whether or not you will have insurance coverage and what sort of plan you’ve (anyplace between $0 to $1,000), but it may be low value and even free with many insurance policy, Medicaid, and a few government packages. Talk to your insurance coverage provider to discover out in case your plan covers an IUD.

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