Be safe this summer: The uses of emergency hormonal contraception
Are you going abroad this summer?
It’s that time of year again to go abroad and enjoy the sun, relax and to just take a bit of time out from your usual daily routine. Of course when we’re on holiday we just want to break free from all constraints…and contraception can be easily forgotten. This can lead to a stressful morning after the night before! And no matter how careful you are, its no-ones fault if a condom breaks.
To make sure you are safe whilst abroad this summer, why not slip some emergency contraception into your suitcase, to give you that peace of mind.
About Emergency hormonal contraception
Emergency hormonal contraception is also called ‘EHC’ and the ‘morning-after pill’. If you have had unprotected sex, taking emergency hormonal contraception within a few days can help prevent pregnancy.
Emergency hormonal contraception can be used if you have had sex without using contraception, or if you have had sex but there was a mistake with your usual contraception (for example, a split condom or if you forgot to take your usual contraceptive pills).
What Emergency pills are available?
There are two kinds of emergency contraceptive pill:
Levonelle contains levonorgestrel, a synthetic version of the natural hormone progesterone. In a woman’s body, progesterone plays a role in ovulation and preparing the uterus for accepting a fertilised egg.
It’s not known exactly how Levonelle works, but it’s thought to work primarily by preventing or delaying ovulation. You can take Levonelle more than once in a menstrual cycle. It does not interfere with your regular method of contraception.
ellaOne contains ulipristal acetate, which means it stops progesterone working normally. It prevents pregnancy mainly by preventing or delaying ovulation. ellaOne may prevent other types of hormonal contraception from working for a week after use, and it’s not recommended for use more than once in a menstrual cycle.
Facts about Emergency Contraception
Both types of emergency contraception are effective at preventing pregnancy if they are used soon after unprotected sex. Less than 1% of women who use the IUD get pregnant, whereas pregnancies after the emergency contraceptive pill are not as rare. It’s thought that ellaOne is more effective than Levonelle.
- The sooner you take Levonelle or ellaOne, the more effective it will be.
- Levonelle or ellaOne can make you feel sick, dizzy or tired, or give you a headache, tender breasts or abdominal pain.
- Levonelle or ellaOne can make your period earlier or later than usual.
- If you’re sick (vomit) within two hours of taking Levonelle, or three hours of taking ellaOne, seek medical advice as you will need to take another dose or have an IUD fitted.
- There are no serious side effects of using emergency contraception.
- Emergency contraception does not cause an abortion.
Note that the morning after pill is only effective when taken within 72 hours of having unprotected sex, and it doesn’t protect you against STIs. And don’t forget to use a condom until the end of your cycle.
Published by Jason Finch