You are most fertile in the two days leading up to ovulation. It means you have a greater chance to conceive if you have sex during this period. What you should also bear in mind is that sperm can live up to five days and an egg 24 hours, so you can conceive several days after sex. Many women take the morning after pill to avoid pregnancy after unprotected sex. The pill slows down the production of the hormone responsible for ovulation. This delays the release of an egg, and when there is no egg, the sperm cannot fertilize it.
How Effective Is the Morning After Pill?
Morning after pills work only when you take them within the first few days of having sex, preferably within 24 hours after unprotected sex. It becomes less effective when the hormone surge has already occurred. It is less effective when taken close to ovulation and is useless if taken after fertilization has occurred.
Along with the timing, the type of emergency contraception you use will also have an impact on how effective the pill is. Generally, Next Choice One Dose, Plan B One-Step, Take Action, and other progestin-only emergency contraceptive pills are more effective than pills that contain both progestin and estrogen. It is also important to point out that Ella and pills containing an anti-progestin are even more effective as compared to progestin-only pills.
- You can reduce the risk of pregnancy by 75% if you take combined pills that contain both estrogen and progestin.
- Labeling for Next Choice One Dose, Plan B One-Step, Levonorgestrel Tablets, and Next Choice states that these pills have 88% success rates, preventing 7 of 8 pregnancies. They become 95% effective when taken in 24 hours of having unprotected sex.
- Ella is 65% more effective than progestin-only pills when taken in less than 24 hours of having sex. Studies show that Ella stays effective for up to 5 days after sex, but where you actually are in your menstrual cycle will also affect its effectiveness. It means you are more likely to get pregnant if you take Ella when you are about to ovulate. Still, Ella is a better choice than progestin-only EC when you are closer to the time of ovulation–they do not work if you have already ovulated.
What May Affect the Effectiveness of Morning After Pills?
You already know, “How effective is the morning after pill?” it is also important to understand what factors can affect the effectiveness of these pills. For instance:
- Vomiting: You may have to deal with vomiting and nausea after you take the pill. If that happens, the pill becomes less effective because your body takes some time to absorb the active substance of the pill. Be sure to contact your doctor if you experience vomiting after taking the pill. You may even have to repeat the dose of EllaOne or Levonelle if you vomit within 3 hours of taking the first dose.
- Obesity: Research shows that the morning after pill becomes less effective if you are obese. If your body mass index is 30 or above, you are four times more likely to become pregnant as compared to women who have a body mass index lower than 30. Similarly, the LNG pill is less effective if your body weight is over 75kg. EllaOne is a better choice if you are over 75kg because it is the most effective contraception option for obese women.
- Other Medications: Certain medicines can reduce the effectiveness of the emergency progestogen pill because they may trigger the breakdown of the pill in the body. The most common medicines in the list are carbamazepine and phenytoin, which are used for epilepsy; rifabutin and rifampicin, which are used to clear infections; and ritonavir, which is used to treat AIDS.
- Existing Health Complaints: The effectiveness of these pills may come down if you already have a health condition. In fact, the day after pill is not suitable for anyone with stomach problems such as Crohn’s disease or anyone with severe liver disease. You may also want to avoid the pill if you have hormone problems or certain allergies.
Risks of ECPs
Many women ask, “How effective is the morning after pill?” However, they do not inquire much about the risks associated with the use of emergency contraception. For instance, you may be able to prevent pregnancy by taking emergency contraception, but you may still end up contracting a sexually transmitted infection. It is therefore important to practice safe sex in the first place to avoid dealing with such issues. Moreover, you need to bear in mind that medical contraindications to the use of levonorgestrel are unclear, so it is a good idea to avoid it if you already have a liver disease.
Will It Affect My Baby If I Have Already Ovulated?
The good thing is that you do not need to worry about any harm done to your unborn if you do get pregnant after taking the pill. This is quite true for LNG, but there is not enough evidence to support EllaOne because the medication is still relatively new. Similarly, you can take the LNG pill even if you are breastfeeding, but that is not the case with EllaOne.
Possible Side Effects
You may end up dealing with certain side effects after taking these emergency contraceptive pills. The most common are dizziness, nausea, fatigue, vomiting, headache, lower abdominal pain, breast tenderness, and bleeding between periods. Talk to your doctor if you notice irregular bleeding with severe abdominal pain to ensure you do not have an ectopic pregnancy.