Why Doesn't The Morning After Pill Work?

The Morning After Pill (MAP) is usually taken in panic after unprotected sex.  It prevents conception by delaying ovulation.  You can take the morning after pill up to five days after intercourse but it is better to take it sooner rather than later.  The MAP works in a similar way to the normal contraceptive pill.

There is no evidence to suggest that taking the morning after pill is harmful.  If you use the MAP regularly you should find a regular method of contraception. Levonelle and EllaOne are well-known brands of the morning after pill.  They are both 95% effective particularly if taken as soon as possible.

Every time you have sex you risk pregnancy even when you take contraception.  Contraception is not 100% effective due to human error and bad luck. The morning after pill is less effective if you take certain medication or due to lifestyle choices.

How The Morning After Pill Works

The morning after pill works in exactly the same way as the conventional pill. It delays ovulation so that an egg cannot be released and fertilised.

Sperm live for five days in the cervix the MAP prevents the egg from coming into contact with the sperm. Taking the morning after pill is not the same as having an abortion because it prevents conception.

Some women suffer side effects such as nausea, dizziness and vomiting while others don’t have any.  Your periods may be disrupted after taking the MAP and could arrive early or late.  Taking the morning after pill doesn’t increase your chances of developing ovarian cysts and the long-term effects are likely to be similar to taking the conventional pill.

The morning after pill is available without prescription from online chemists and over the counter in your local pharmacy.

If you would like to review and purchase emergency contraception please click here.

Reasons Why The MAP May Not Work

No contraception is 100% effective so there is always a chance that you may still become pregnant after taking the morning after pill.  EllaOne and Levonelle are 95% effective and are the most reliable emergency contraception you can take.  The majority of people who take emergency contraception do not end up pregnant.

Sometimes the MAP doesn’t work due to external circumstances that make the pill less effective.

Antibiotics And St John’s Wort

Antibiotics prevent the conventional pill from working properly and can also render the morning after pill ineffective.  St John’s Wort is a natural supplement used to counteract depression it also makes the MAP less likely to work.  If you are taking either of these treatments and need emergency contraception you would be better getting an IUD or coil fitted to prevent pregnancy.

Being Overweight

There is a debate as to whether having a BMI over 25 causes the morning after pill to be ineffective.  If you are overweight EllaOne is considered to be the most effective emergency contraception.  Weight does not hinder the effectiveness of the copper coil.

You Might Already Be Pregnant

If you are pregnant the MAP will have no effect whatsoever.  The pill won’t cause an abortion or any damage to the fetus.  If this is the case you will have to decide what you want to do about it and seek advice.  Taking the morning after pill will not harm your baby so you don’t need to feel guilty about taking it.

You May Have Just Ovulated

You may be at the point in your menstrual cycle when ovulation has already taken place.  The MAP may make it more difficult for the fertilised egg to settle but it may be too late.  

Unless you are totally confident about knowing your cycle using a regular form of contraception would be a more reliable way to prevent pregnancy.

If you would like to review and purchase emergency contraception please click here.

By Parv Sagoo (Dec 2018)