Below are a list of commonly held beliefs about emergency contraception. Click on the belief to see if is true or false.
Oral emergency contraception can only be used if you have a ‘contraceptive accident’ e.g. torn condom
Emergency contraception is for women who want to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex . Unprotected sex can be through an accident, or not using any contraception at all. This is not uncommon. Many women (about 30%) had unprotected sex at least once over the last year.1
Oral emergency contraception is a ‘hormonal bomb’ that will ruin my cycles
For the last 10 years, dedicated emergency contraceptives have been available. The hormones contained in oral emergency contraception can alter your menstruations (period), during the cycle you take them. This means after intake your next period might be on time, or earlier, or later than normal. After this your cycle normally returns to its regular pattern.
The morning-after pill will make me sick
Emergency contraception is well tolerated; however like all medicines, it can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them.2,3
If you are sick (vomit) within 3 hours of taking an emergency contraception tablet, go back to a pharmacist and get another tablet to take.2,3
I cannot take oral emergency contraception twice in the same cycle
…and False !
The aim of taking an emergency contraceptive pill is to delay or inhibit egg release until the sperm that are waiting in the fallopian tube are no longer capable of making you pregnant. It will delay ovulation for 5-6 days. If you have further unprotected sex during the same cycle your chances of postponing ovulation again are lower than when you took it the first time. It is possible to take emergency contraception twice in the same cycle provided you are not already pregnant, but it is really much safer to think about a regular contraceptive method, because they are more effective in preventing pregnancy. In any case, you should seek medical advice if you need emergency contraception twice in the same cycle.
Oral emergency contraception is a sort of mini abortion
Emergency contraception pills works by delaying or inhibiting egg release .2,3 This means that the sperm that is waiting in the fallopian tube will no longer be capable of making you pregnant. This all happens before pregnancy can begin, which is 6-12 days after unprotected sex.4,5 If you are pregnant emergency contraception will not stop your pregnancy.
Oral emergency contraception will have a negative effect on my fertility
Emergency contraception has no effect on future fertility.2,3 If you want to have sex after using emergency contraception, use a barrier method of contraception until your next period.3,6 This is because your fertility can come back very quickly.
I can use oral emergency contraception as my regular contraception
Emergency contraception is not a regular contraception.3,6 After unprotected sex it is wise to use emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy. But emergency contraception is not 100% effective (because you may have already just ovulated when you took the emergency contraceptive pill).