Emergency contraception is used to prevent pregnancy when you have had unprotected sex. Also known as, ‘The Morning After Pill’, this type of contraception can be taken either 72 or 120 hours afterwards (depending on which brand you choose). It is advisable to take it as soon as you can after unprotected intercourse.
EllaOne and Levonelle are the most well-known brands of emergency contraception. Levonelle can be taken up to 120 hours (5 days) after intercourse while EllaOne can be take up to 72 hours (3 days) afterwards.
Taking emergency contraception is no more harmful than taking the contraceptive pill. It is a very effective way of preventing pregnancy but it is not advisable to use as a regular form of contraception.
How Emergency Contraception Works
Emergency contraception works by preventing conception from taking place. Conception occurs when a healthy sperm fertilises an egg. Eggs are released from the ovaries once a month. Sperm can survive for 5 days in the cervix after intercourse. The morning after pill works by preventing ovulation so that the egg isn’t released and fertilised by the sperm. If you are already pregnant emergency contraception will not cause any more harm than taking the conventional pill. When you use emergency contraception you are not taking an abortion pill so a termination does not take place.
How An Abortion Works
People choose to have an abortion for a variety of reasons and it is a decision that is not taken lightly. An abortion is the termination of a pregnancy by causing the fetus to detach from the lining of the womb so it is no longer viable.
The earlier you decide to have an abortion the less invasive the procedure. Two pills are used during early pregnancy; the first stop progesterone from being produced causing the womb lining to shed. The second pill causes stomach cramps to help the lining to be expelled from the body. This method can be used up to 24 weeks into the pregnancy.
A surgical abortion is more invasive as it can either use vacuum or suction (before 15 weeks) or dilation and evacuation (after 15 weeks). They are both described as minor surgery but as with everything medical complications can occur.
Abortions after 24 weeks only occur in exceptional circumstances such as a risk to the mother’s life or if the baby isn’t developing properly.
Before you have an abortion you will have to sign a consent form after discussing the procedure with a doctor.
EllaOne and Levonelle can be bought online and in your local chemist. You don’t have to make a doctor’s appointment in order to buy them. When you do purchase emergency contraception you will be asked about your general health to ensure that it is safe for you to take them. It may disrupt your monthly cycle a little but you are unlikely to suffer any major side effects. EllaOne can be taken up to 3 days after unprotected sex and Levonelle 5 days. You are not having an abortion when you take the morning after pill - you are preventing pregnancy.
By Parv Sagoo (Feb 2018)