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IUDs and Emergency Contraceptives: How Do They Actually Work?

By HERWriter
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how do emergency contraceptives and IUDs actually work? Auremar/PhotoSpin

Do Plan B and my IUD cause abortion? That is the big question these days.

There are various types of birth control, but the owners of the companies Hobby Lobby and an affiliated business Mardel specifically targeted four types of contraceptives in the case they brought to the Supreme Court, Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.

They have stated that according to their Christian beliefs, four types of contraceptives lead to abortion.

In the actual Supreme Court decision, it describes “four FDA-approved contraceptives that may operate after the fertilization of an egg,” including two types of emergency contraceptives known as “morning after” pills and two forms of intrauterine devices.

“These four methods are not abortifacients,” said Sally Rafie, a pharmacist who provides training on emergency contraception. “The distinction between preventing pregnancy before it begins (contraception) and terminating an existing pregnancy (abortion) is very important.”

“A pregnancy begins [when] the fertilized egg is implanted in the endometrial lining of the uterus, as defined by medical professionals,” she added in an email.

So why did the Supreme Court rule in favor of Hobby Lobby when their main justification was that they believe these four methods of birth control are abortion?

“The Hobby Lobby family has a different religious-based definition that considers a pregnancy when the egg is fertilized by sperm,” Rafie said.

So in this case, the owners of Hobby Lobby and Mardel believe life begins at conception, so in a sense they believe that a woman is pregnant if her egg is fertilized, even if it never implants in the uterus.

So how do these birth control methods actually work?

It is important to note that according to the Office on Women’s Health, emergency contraception will not work if you’re already pregnant.

“While it is possible that [emergency contraceptive pills or ECPs] might work by keeping a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus, the most up-to-date research suggests that ECPs do not work in this way,” according to their website.

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EmpowHER Guest

Levonorgestrel does not prevent implantation of a fertilized egg. It mainly works to prevent ovulation and may also thicken cervical mucus to keep sperm from reaching an egg.

July 7, 2014 - 7:11am
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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.

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