The Morning After (pill)

Common reasons we hear that women reach for the “morning after pill” may be, “we had unprotected sex,” “we used a condom, but it was old,” “we thought it was an okay time of the month,” “we risked it,” etcetera.  

Emergency contraception (EC) is intended to prevent a pregnancy and it’s usually used after an “oops” moment, unexpected condom failure or even forced sex. The morning after pill (Plan B One-Step™, or Ella®) has some women thinking that it is going to protect them from getting pregnant. However, what an EC may do is prevent the new life from implanting in the uterus, ending a very early pregnancy rather than preventing pregnancy altogether ¹.  This is not a contraceptive effect, but abortive, resulting in the embryo’s death.

Let’s look at the way these drugs work, their side effects and their success rate along with any other important details you may want to know.

Plan B One Step™

 

A single pill, which contains a large amount of hormone (levonorgestrel), recommended to be taken within 72 hours of sex.  It works primarily by preventing the egg and the sperm from meeting. It may also prevent a newly formed life from implanting in the uterus and continuing to develop.  This ends the life and is an abortifacient effect. Plan B One Step cannot disrupt an implanted pregnancy.

 

The Side Effects of Plan B One Step may include changes in your period, nausea, lower abdominal pain, tiredness, headache and dizziness.  If your period is more than a week late, you may possibly be pregnant. It should not be used as a routine form of birth control because it isn’t as effective.  Women who are experiencing severe abdominal pain after taking the drug may have an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy and should get immediate medical help.

 

How well does Plan B work?  Studies on it’s effectiveness come down to an educated guess.  A review of 14 studies (a total of 13,000 women) concluded that increased access increases its use, but it was not shown to reduce unintended pregnancy rates.  There are no long-term studies on the safety of using this drug frequently over long periods of time.

 

Should you?  Consider the cost, your likelihood of becoming pregnant and it’s effectiveness, and the potential to interrupt the development of a new life.  

Ella®

 

ella® Ulipristal Is a progesterone-blocking hormone developed as an emergency contraceptive.  It is intended for use within 5 days of unprotected sex or condom failure. First, ella®  may reduce the chance of pregnancy by preventing or postponing ovulation.  It may also work by preventing an embryo from implanting in the uterus and developing further, which is a form of an early abortion.   Only meant to be used once, during a menstrual cycle, it is reported to reduce the chance of pregnancy but it is not always effective.

 

Some women ask, can it abort an attached pregnancy?  Unlike Plan B, ella®  is a chemical cousin to the abortion pill Mifeprex™.  Both share the progesterone blocking effect of disrupting the embryos attachment to the uterus, causing its death.  The impact on the existing pregnancies was not tested in women, however a higher dose of ella® did cause abortions in pregnant animals, including monkeys, and caries the same potential in humans.

 

The common side effects of ella® may include, headache, nausea, abdominal pain, menstrual cramps, tiredness and dizziness.  Women who experience abdominal pain after using ella®  should be evaluated right away for an ectopic pregnancy, which can be very dangerous and even life threatening without medical attention.

 

ella® may not be as effective if taken with other drugs or may change the effectiveness of those drugs.  Much is unknown about the drug, including it’s effect on women under 18, already pregnant, or breastfeeding. The effect on pregnancies that continue after ella®   is also unknown.

 

How can Pregnancy Resource Center Medical Clinic help me?

 

If you are having a “morning after” concern, the first thing you can do is call or text our office (949 334 7722) for a safe and confidential appointment to discuss your options.   Our welcoming client-centered team will make you feel at home, providing all our services at no-cost-to-you.

CLICK HERE to SCHEDULE APPOINTMENT

 

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Pregnancy Resource Center Medical Clinic

416 Avenida de la Estrella, San Clemente, CA 92672

¹ Care Net, “I Just Had Unprotected Sex … NOW WHAT?,” Before You Decide, 2016 Edition 2, pg 7