At EmpowHer, we get so many questions from women who had unprotected sex and are worried about whether it might have caused a pregnancy. Some have dealt with condoms that broke; others say they didn’t intend to have sex but that things “got a little out of hand.” Some are completely freaked out – including young women as young as 15 and 16.
Up until now, “morning-after” birth control pills need to be taken within 72 hours of the unprotected sex to be effective. That means within three days.
But on Tuesday, documents released by the Food and Drug Administration say a new morning-after birth control (sold under the name ella in Europe) is effective when taken as many as five days after unprotected sex.
A public meeting is scheduled about the drug on Thursday, at which experts will decide whether to recommend making the drug available in the United States.
“Women's health advocates have welcomed the potential for another emergency contraceptive option, but some critics contend the drug is more akin to the abortion pill, sold by Danco Laboratories as Mifeprex and also known as RU-486 or mifepristone.
“HRA Pharma has said its drug, whose scientific name is ulipristal, works by preventing ovulation of a woman's egg.
“In their review, FDA staff scientists said the company's studies showed no unexpected side effects in women, although reports of nausea, headache and abdominal pain were common. It was not clear what effect the drug had, if any, when a woman still became pregnant despite taking it, they added.”
From the Washington Post:
“The last time the Food and Drug Administration vetted an emergency contraceptive -- Plan B, the so-called morning-after pill -- the decision was mired in debate over such fundamental questions as when life begins and the distinction between preventing and terminating a pregnancy. Ella is raising many of those same politically charged questions -- but more sharply, testing the Obama administration's pledge to keep ideology from influencing scientific decisions.