The Morning-after Pill & Other Emergency Contraceptives

Emergency contraceptives, which are a form of birth control, are referred to by many names including the morning-after pill, “the pill”, Levonogestrel pill, Plan B One-Step®, Next Choice® and Ella®. The purpose for the morning-after pill is to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex, or after the birth control method has failed.

According to Mayo Clinic, morning-after pills contain either levonorgestrel (Plan B One-Step®) or ulipristal acetate (Ella®). [1]

How it Works
The morning-after pill works one of three ways, depending on when it is taken after unprotected sex: [2]

  1. Delayed ovulation (normal menstrual cycle is altered)
  2. Inhibited ovulation (the egg will not be released from the ovary)
  3. Inhibit implantation of the newly formed baby (irritating the lining of the uterus -endometrium)

Remember that fertilization, the moment when an individual child with it’s own DNA is formed, takes place in the fallopian tube. The newly-formed baby then travels down the fallopian tube to the uterus, where he or she attaches to the womb lining to receive nourishment and continue growing and developing. This process, the baby traveling from the fallopian tube to the womb, can take 5-7 days. During that time, the morning after pill could prevent the baby from attaching to the uterus lining, thus ending the baby’s life due to a lack of nourishment.

Side Effects [3]

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Breast tenderness
  • Bleeding between periods or heavier menstrual bleeding
  • Stop of menstrual bleeding
  • Lower abdominal pain or cramps

There are scientifically-proven risks of levonorgestrel, [4] the active ingredient in Plan B®, including:

  • Significant weight gain (on average 15 pounds)
  • Depression
  • Ovarian cyst enlargement
  • Gall bladder disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Respiratory disorders
  • Increased risk of ectopic pregnancy
  • Death

Diabetic women should be especially cautious about Plan B, because 1.85  million  women of reproductive age (18-44) have diabetes according to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), and approximately 500,000 do not know that they have the disease. [5]

Although birth control pills are widely consumed and are available without a prescription, they have more dangers, risks and side effects than most realize. [6]

How effective the morning-after pill is depends on when it is taken, your body weight and a couple other factors. Keep in mind other medications can have an interaction with the morning-after pill or other forms of non-emergency birth control. The effectiveness rate of the morning-after pill is 62-95%, depending on which one you take. Morning-after pills are not a sure, foolproof pill. They have risks and side effects.

Morning-after Pill FAQ’s | Ella FAQ’s

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    Questions or additional comments:

    [1] Mayo Clinic



    [4] Population Research Institute

    [5] Center for Disease Control (CDC)

    [6] Heartbeat International

    Please note that any information provided by the Blue Ridge Women’s Center is for reference only and does not constitute professional advice, nor can it replace regular consultation with your physician or other appropriate professionals.