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The Morning After Pill - Get Your Questions Answered!

By HERWriter
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Until I needed it myself, I was completely unaware that so many women close to me had used Emergency Contraception or the “morning after pill”. At the time, it was very reassuring to hear my friends’ experiences, and because so many women on the EmpowHER website ask questions regarding EC, I thought I would share my own experience and try to provide some answers to general concerns women have after taking the pill.

My need for EC was the result of a mistake many couples make when using condoms. (Now YOU definitely won’t!) Instead of pulling out after his orgasm, my partner remained inside me and when his erection shrank, the condom fell off. I immediately knew that despite my aversion to unnatural hormones, I had no choice but to use Emergency Contraception. First rule of thumb: when in doubt, just take the pill! It’s much less expensive than an abortion or a baby.

I headed to Walgreens and was quickly helped by a pharmacist who seemed quite used to seeing disheveled young women asking for the drug. Anyone over the age of 17 is now able to acquire EC without a prescription, thanks to the recent work of dedicated women's health activists. The brand of EC I received was called Next Choice, an option that contains 2 doses of Levonorgestrel (a hormone commonly used in birth control pills), to be taken 12 hours apart. Another common brand is the Plan B One-Step, consisting of only one pill.

Sitting in the parking lot, I carefully read all the directions on the Next Step package and swallowed the pill. I knew I was well within the time constraints of the pill’s effectiveness (3 days or 72 hours), but because the earlier you take the drug the more effective it will be, I still felt hurried. All day I awaited side effects like dizziness, nausea, or headache, but none came. 12 hours after my first dose, I took the 2nd pill – still feeling just fine.

2 days after I took the pills, I began to feel some cramping. Although it was not yet time in my cycle, I experienced a very light, 3-day period.* Because early stages of pregnancy can also cause similar symptoms, just in case I also took a pregnancy test to confirm. Negative! Though it took about 2 months until my menstrual cycle was regular again, it was clear that the Next Choice pill had done its job with minimal side effects. Sometimes, drugs truly are miracles.

Please feel free to share your own experience with EC, or ask any questions about mine! If there’s interest, I’d love to provide more details about how the drug works and its common side effects. I also (as always) recommend doing your own research on the pill. Planned Parenthood's website is a great place to start: http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/emergency-contraception-morning-after-pill-4363.htm

* Important clarification: EC is not the abortion pill. If you are already pregnant, the hormone will not have any effect on a fetus. Instead, Levonorgestrel can prevent ovulation, thicken your vaginal discharge making it less penetrable to sperm, and help shed your uterine lining to prevent implantation of an egg – resulting in the common side effect of a period-like bleeding.

Sources: http://www.mynextchoice.com/Consumer/whatis_Main.asp

Add a Comment182 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

my boyfriend ejaculated on his hand and washed it with water only and not soap. he then fingered me after 15 mins when his hand was completely dry. as he didnt wash his hand with soap we took an emergency contraceptive pill. i had felt nausea, cramps and headaches in the first 3 days. then felt nothing for another 2. and now on the 6th day again i felt nauseated, headaches and stomach aches. i need to be worried? we didnt have sex. and im still a virgin.

April 1, 2015 - 12:12pm
EmpowHER Guest

Hi there. I had sex and the condom broke. I'm on regular birth control pills (21 active 7 inactive) but I was paranoid that I took one or two of the pills a few hours late, earlier that month so I took the morning after pill, about 70 hours later. I was expecting my period a week after I had sex but it hasn't come yet, now 2 days late. I know my chances of being pregnant are extremely small but I wanted to know if missed or delayed periods after taking both the regular and emergency contraception should be expected? Thanks

March 21, 2015 - 10:38pm
EmpowHER Guest

Alright. I have a question. I had sex on a Sunday at first we didn't use a condom, but he didn't enjaculate inside me , then I took the pill that Thursday because there was a thing called a pre-enjaculation so we got really nervous. I typically start my period around the 28th. It came two days early, I mean I've started near this time before. It's either few days early or late. I think I've started my period. At first I got a little blood, then it got heavier, but it's my 3rd day and it's lighter or done as a whol . Is that normal for the pill to affect my period. Please, please someone respond back. I'm really nervous.

February 28, 2015 - 10:17pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

so, how are you now, was it success from pregnant?

June 27, 2015 - 6:30pm
EmpowHER Guest

Is it a side effect of the pill that your next period will last less? I took NorLevo 1,5 mg almost 3 weeks ago and 4 days ago I got my period in the expected date as always...but what I can see is that quantity and color were same but it's lasting less. Usually it lasts around 5 days and now it barely lasted 4. Is it ok after taking the pill?

August 1, 2012 - 2:25am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Thanks for your question! Taking emergency contraception basically throws your reproductive system and the hormones that control it into overdrive. Many women experience irregular patterns in their menstruation after taking the EC pill. I think a slightly shorter period should not be something to be concerned about, but if you continue to experience signs/symptoms that are abnormal for your personal bleeding cycles in the next couple months, contact your health care provider.

August 1, 2012 - 7:43am
EmpowHER Guest

Hi, I know personally of a case where the morning after pill did not work and so the woman had to deal with that. She was worried that the morning after pill might have damaged the baby but apparently that is not likely but that fact would need checking

September 22, 2010 - 4:12pm
HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

Thank you for sharing your story! You are right - it is very unlikely that the morning after pill could harm a fetus. Because EC simply alters the environment of the uterus, making it undesirable/impossible for an egg to implant, if the embryo has already embedded itself, the pill should have no adverse effects.

EC is NOT an abortion pill, so it will not dislodge a growing embryo from its space in the uterus's wall. The pill merely floods your body with a large amount of hormones. This is actually why the morning after pill is so time sensitive (best if taken within 36-72 hours of sperm exposure, depending on the brand) - it is a preventative measure, not a drug that will stop the formation of an already settled fetus.

Please feel free to write back with more of your own knowledge on the topic - I would love to hear more.

September 23, 2010 - 12:22am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Hannah Cutts)

I took another home pregnancy test and it was negative. That took away some stress! I think the spotting that occurred after plan b was actually a light period because it lasted for a week yet was less than a normal period. Im hoping that my normal flow will occur in about a week because that light period happened about a month ago next week. I'll keep you posted!

September 27, 2010 - 9:02pm
HERWriter (reply to Anonymous)

Please do! Thanks for writing in!

September 28, 2010 - 5:09pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.