But, let’s face it. “Plan A” sometimes doesn’t get put into action.
Maybe the condom broke, or fell off.
Maybe the heat of the moment overwhelmed you, and a slip in judgment drove you to have unprotected sex.
Or (heaven forbid) maybe it wasn’t your choice to have unprotected sex.
Whatever the reason, you need to know that you have options. In fact, you have quite a few. Now, none of these options will protect you from sexually transmitted infections, but they can certainly prevent an unwanted pregnancy.
If I take more than one pill, will it help? In a word: no. Doctors and researchers have determined the amount of chemical you need for it to work. Any more is just extra that your body shrugs off.
Solution One: When “Plan A” Fails, go to Plan B
This is actually a brand name of what’s called a ‘progestin-only’ pill. It has a few different names and delivery methods.
- Plan B
- Plan B One-Step
- Next Choice
- Next Choice One Dose
- and Levonorgestrel Tablets
Plan B and Next Choice are essentially the same thing: Levonorgestrel Tablets that deliver the hormone progestin to help prevent an unwanted pregnancy.
The One-Step and One Dose options are pills that you just have to take the one time. The others are often two pills that you take 12 hours apart. Talk to your doctor to make sure you take either pill dosage correctly.
The statistics for prevented pregnancies are 88%. And if taken within the first 24 hours, that number climbs to 95%.
These numbers just mean a reduction in pregnancies. Let’s say out of a sample of women, 8 of those women would normally get pregnant without an emergency contraceptive. Options like Plan B or Next Choice claim that 7 out of those 8 pregnancies could be prevented with their product.
As for side effects, Plan B and Next Choice are said to have milder side effects than our Solution Three.
Solution Two: Ella
This pill functions a little differently because it’s a completely different chemical: ulipristal acetate.
While Plan B decreases in effectiveness the longer you wait after you have sex, Ella does not. Up to 120 hours after unprotected sex, you can take Ella to reduce your chances of getting pregnant.
Ella is just one pill. Women report that the side effects are even less severe than Plan B or Next Choice.
Solution Three: Combined Emergency Contraceptive Pills
These were one of the first pill options, called the “Morning After Pill.”
You can take these kinds of pills up to 120 hours after you have unprotected sex, but effectiveness decreases as time goes on.
Unfortunately, this kind of emergency contraception comes with the sharpest of side effects in our four options here. Women report experiencing nausea, and one in five women are said to vomit.
If you throw up within an hour of taking this pill, you may need to take it again to ensure effectiveness. Talk to your doctor. You may want to invest in anti-nausea medication if you choose to use this kind of emergency contraception.
Solution Four: Get a Copper-T IUD
This option is one of the most effective (more than 99%), but it’s also the most complicated.
Up to 5 days after you have unprotected sex, you can get a doctor (or anyone else trained to do so) to insert a copper-T Intrauterine Device.
This small implant inside your uterus helps prevent pregnancy by helping prevent sperm from living to find the egg and also bothering the uterine lining, making it so that eggs can’t find a good place to attach and wait for sperm.
Side effects may include cramping or more bleeding from the implant itself during your period.
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