Health & Wellbeing Women's Health

#TabooTuesday: Everything You NTK About The Morning After Pill

If you are thinking any of the following... 'Uh oh. I forgot to use a condom and I am not ready for a tiny person.' 'Oops, I missed my pill and am not ready for a tiny person.' *condom splits* 'WHY AREN'T THEY MADE OF STEEL. Again, I am not ready for a tiny person,' you might be considering taking the morning after pill.

Today, Mr N Pisal, consultant gynaecologist from London Gynaecology, tells us the NTKs of morning-after contraception.

What types of morning after contraception are available?

"There are three options.

"1. Copper Intrauterine Device (IUD) is the treatment of choice. It works up to 120 hours after unprotected sex or within five days of the earliest expected ovulation. It has the lowest failure rate (less than 1%) and also gives ongoing contraception, working by preventing implantation. However, it is an invasive procedure and may not be readily available.

"2. Levonorgestrel (Levonelle) is an oral tablet that works up to 72 hours after unprotected sex. It has a failure rate of 1.7 – 2.6% and works by delaying or preventing ovulation. It is commonly available over the counter through any pharmacy, at your GP surgery, contraception clinics, sexual health clinics and some genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinics.

"3. Ulipristal Acetate (ellaOne) is also an oral tablet and works up to 120 hours after unprotected sex. This also works by delaying or preventing ovulation. It's failure rate is 0.9-1.7% and you can find it at the same places noted above."

Anything else I need to do when taking the morning after pill?

"If you are taking emergency contraception due to a missed pill, you will need to use additional contraception for an extra week for Levonelle and two weeks for ellaOne. You should also think about ongoing contraception and may wish to discuss this with your doctor at the same time. A pregnancy test is also a good idea three weeks after the unprotected sex to confirm that you are not pregnant. You may also be at risk of a sexually transmitted infection so you may wish to request testing for this too.

What are the side effects of the morning after pill?

"Tummy pain and headache. Irregular menstrual bleeding (spotting or heavy bleeding) before your next period is due. Delayed period (best to do a pregnancy test anyway three weeks later). Feeling sick or vomiting (seek medical advice if you vomit within two hours of taking Levonelle, or three hours of taking ellaOne, as you will need to take another dose or have an IUD fitted). Breast tenderness and dizziness.

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