Emergency contraception

Types and Side Effects of the Morning-after Pill: Emergency Contraception

Authored by DesiMD Doctor on 7 Jan 2016 - 12:10

Contraception is normally a worrying topic for many people regarding its safety and the appropriate option to choose. Contraception is the use various devices, drugs, agents, sexual practices, or surgical procedures to prevent or plan conception or pregnancy.

However, many safe and authentic methods are available to prevent pregnancy these days. In a situation when primary contraceptive methods fail to work, (for instance if a condom splits or if you have missed taking a pill after unprotected intercourse), emergency contraception becomes necessary. Two types of emergency contraceptive (EC) methods are: the morning-after pill and insertion of a paragard IUD (intrauterine device).

Emergency Contraceptive (EC) methods:

1)     Morning-after pill: The term ‘morning-after pill’ means to take the pill orally as soon as possible after unprotected sex. Morning-after pill is a large dose of oestrogen that works by preventing implantation of a fertilized ovum (when an egg is released from the ovary). Sperm can last in a woman’s body for 5 days after sex and hence researchers recommend consuming the pill within 120 hours i.e upto 5 days.

There are two types of pills which include:

  • Levonorgestrel pills: Morning-after pills that contain levonorgestrel pills like Next Choice One Dose and Plan B One-Step can reduce the risk of pregnancy by about 89 percent when consumed within 3 days (72 hours) followed by unprotected sex. However, these pills can also be taken up to 5 days after intercourse, but has a lesser efficacy rate.
  • Ulipristal acetate (ella) pills: This pill offers 85 percent efficacy in lowering the risk of pregnancy when taken within 5 days of unprotected sex.

Which is the best morning-after pill?

Plan B One-Step and Next Choice One Dose, containing the levonorgestrel hormone does not seem to be very effective in obese and overweight women  with a BMI (body mass index) more than 25. However, ella pill or an IUD might prove to be a better effective option, but at the same time ella loses its efficacy in women with a BMI more than 35.

Even though there are few brands with a two-dose method that demand a prescription for women below 16, plan B One-Step and Next Choice One Dose are easily available over the counter without any age limitation. However, the ella pill demands for a prescription in all conditions.

Side effects of the Morning-after pill:

Although morning-after pill prevents pregnancy, there are few possible side-effects associated that includes:

  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Breast tenderness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Lower abdominal cramps
  • Vaginal bleeding

However, an additional dose is required if you vomit within 2 hours of taking it. Women who have an allergy to the constituents of the pills should avoid taking it and breastfeeding women should strictly avoid taking ella pills.

ParaGard insertion:  ParaGard IUD is a small T-shaped plastic device that is wrapped in copper and is 99.9 percent safe, effective and long-lasting when inserted into your uterus by your provider within five days of having unprotected sex. However, it is better to seek advice from your provider to ensure the best emergency contraception method for you.  


Reference:Planned Parenthood, Morning-after pill (emergency contraception), accessed 28 October 2015; Mayo Clinic, Morning-after pill, accessed 28 October 2015.


*Disclaimer: This website serves as informational purpose only. The content on the DesiMD website, including text, graphics, images, etc., and other content on the DesiMD are for informational purpose only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the DesiMD website. In case of a medical emergency, call your physician or the hospital immediately. DesiMD does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions or other information that may be mentioned on the site. Reliance on any information provided by DesiMD at the invitation of DesiMD, or other visitors to the site is solely at your own risk.