What is the Morning After Pill? When should it be used?
Obstetrics and Gynecology

What is the Morning After Pill? When should it be used?

    The morning after pill is one of the most important emergency protection methods to prevent unplanned pregnancy after unprotected sexual intercourse. The morning after pill, unlike birth control pills, does not require regular use and can only be used after sexual intercourse. Therefore, it is not among the regular birth control methods, but among the emergency contraception methods. Thanks to the active ingredients in the morning-after pill, it prevents the fertilization of the egg or prevents the newly fertilized egg from adhering to the uterine wall. Thus, the occurrence of pregnancy is prevented. In addition, the sooner it is taken after unprotected sexual intercourse, the higher the rate of preventing pregnancy.

    In our article, we will try to give short answers to the most frequently asked questions about the morning after pill, which is one of the most curious subjects of women.

     

    What is the morning after pill?

    The morning-after pill is a drug with a high content of progesterone hormone, which is sold without a prescription in pharmacies. The morning after pill, which is an emergency contraceptive drug, may contain substances that can produce the same effects as the progesterone hormone, as well as a high amount of progesterone. The morning after pill is basically an oral medication taken by women to prevent the occurrence of unplanned pregnancy after unprotected sex. The high progesterone hormone or special substances that have the same effects as the progesterone hormone in the content of the drug reduce the possibility of fertilization of the female egg by the sperm, which is the male reproductive cell. If the fertilization of the egg with sperm has occurred, it prevents the formation of pregnancy by preventing the fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus, that is, to the intrauterine wall.

    Unlike birth control pills, it does not require regular use. It is taken as one or two doses after unprotected sex. For this reason, the morning-after pill is not defined as a contraceptive method, but as a drug that prevents unplanned pregnancy in cases such as after unprotected sexual intercourse or condom rupture. The sooner the drug is used after sexual intercourse, the higher the chance of the morning-after pill to prevent pregnancy.

     

    In which situations is the morning after pill used?

    The morning after pill is a drug containing a high level of progesterone hormone used to prevent unplanned pregnancies. With this feature, it can consider morning-after pills as an emergency contraceptive method. If you do not use a regular birth control method and have had unprotected sex, you can use the morning after pill. In addition, in cases such as the rupture of male and female condoms used as a birth control method, the morning after pill will help you prevent an unplanned pregnancy. If you use birth control pills as a regular birth control method and you forget to take your birth control pill at least 2 times or more in your monthly cycle, the protective effect will be lost. In these cases, you can use the morning after pill for an unplanned pregnancy. However, it is important to remember that the purpose of use of the morning after pill and birth control pills is different. In addition, the use of the morning after pill should be used only once in a month. If it is used more than once in the same month, it can cause serious hormonal irregularities.

     

    How and When to Use the Morning After Pill?

    Due to the name of the morning after pill, there is a perception that it should be taken the next day after unprotected sexual intercourse. However, the rate of preventing unplanned pregnancy is much higher when the morning after pill is taken immediately after unprotected sex. Morning-after pills should usually be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex. The earlier it is taken within 72 hours, the higher the rate of contraception will be. In addition, if taken at the end of 72 hours, there is no contraceptive effect. When we look at the rates of preventing unplanned pregnancy after unprotected sexual intercourse, it is seen that the morning after pill has a 90%-98% rate of contraception when taken within the first 24 hours. If it is taken within the first 48 hours, the probability of preventing pregnancy regresses to 75%. Therefore, the sooner you take the morning-after pill after unprotected sex, the higher your chances of preventing pregnancy will be.

    For how to use the morning after pill, you must read the package insert of the medicine. Because how to use the morning after pill may vary according to the drug brands. Some morning-after pills can be a single dose, while others are two-dose. Situations such as taking an overdose can cause an imbalance in hormones, and taking a low d​​ose may cause the pill to lose its effect.

     

    How does the morning after pill provide protection?

    The morning-after pill, which is taken to prevent unplanned pregnancy after unprotected sexual intercourse, prevents the formation of pregnancy thanks to the high amount of progesterone hormone in its content. In order for pregnancy to occur, the sperm, which is the male reproductive cell, must fertilize the egg waiting to be fertilized in the fallopian tubes, one of the organs of the female reproductive system. Sperm, which is a male reproductive cell, can stay alive in the female body for about 2 days. Thus, even if there is no egg ready to be fertilized after reaching the fallopian tubes, if ovulation occurs within 2 days, the sperm can fertilize the egg and cause pregnancy to occur. The high​​ amount of progesterone hormone in the morning-after pill can delay ovulation. In addition, even if the egg is fertilized by the sperm, it prevents the formation of pregnancy by preventing the thickening of the inner walls of the uterus, which allows the fertilized egg to attach to the uterus.

     

    What are the Side Effects / Harms of the Morning After Pill?

    The high dose of progesterone hormone in the morning-after pill can cause side effects when taken in high doses or used incorrectly. Therefore, it should only be used once in a month. The known side effects and harms of the morning after pill are as follows;

    • Irregular period,
    • nausea and vomiting,
    • intermediate bleeding,
    • Headache and dizziness
    • increased breast tenderness,
    • Weakness and feeling of tiredness,
    • Abdominal swelling and pain in the abdomen.

     

    The most common of these symptoms are menstrual irregularity and nausea and vomiting. Especially women who vomit a few hours after taking the drug should take it again because the drug loses its effect.

     

    How many days after intercourse is the morning after pill used?

    The sooner the morning-after pill, which prevents unplanned pregnancy, is taken after unprotected intercourse, the more effective it will be. Some morning-after pills should be taken within the first 72 hours, that is, within 3 days, and some within 5 days. That's why you should definitely read the leaflet before taking the morning after pill. The sooner you take the drug after unprotected sex, the higher the rate of contraception.

     

    What are the conditions that reduce the effect of the morning after pill?

    Although the morning-after pill is a very effective drug in preventing pregnancy, there may be situations that reduce the effect of the morning-after pill in some cases. Some of these situations are:

    • Having an allergy to one of the ingredients of the morning after pill,
    • Use of other drugs that may decrease the effectiveness of the drug. For example, epilepsy drugs or antibiotics such as rifampicin and griseofulvin,
    • Having a body mass index over 30, that is, being overweight.

    If you have some of these conditions, the effect of the morning after pill will be less on your body.

     

    Do morning-after pills delay menstruation or cause bleeding?

    Depending on the type of drug used, morning-after pills can cause menstrual irregularity, shortening of the menstrual cycle or spotting between menstrual periods. Therefore, we can say that morning-after pills can delay menstruation or cause bleeding in some cases.

    As Koru Hospital team, we tried to answer the most frequently asked questions about the morning after pill in our article. We hope it was a useful article. You can contact us to get more information about the morning after pill or to get an appointment with our specialist doctors.