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Morning After Pill: What is it, when and how to use it?

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Morning After Pill: What is it, when and how to use it?

The morning-after pill, which takes its name from its use the day after sexual intercourse, is one of the emergency contraception methods.

The morning-after pill, which takes its name from its use the day after sexual intercourse, is one of the emergency contraception methods.

You can find answers to the questions most frequently asked by female patients, such as “what is the morning after pill and how does it work, where can I get the morning after pill, what should I pay attention to when using the morning after pill?” in the article.

What is the Morning After Pill?

These pills, which can be obtained from pharmacies without a prescription, usually come out of the package for single use, and whose active ingredients are ulipristal acetate and levonorgestrel, offer an emergency contraceptive method. They are very easy to use and are the drugs used in cases of unprotected sexual intercourse or lack of protective measures during sexual intercourse. For example, the morning-after pill is the first choice in cases that are frequently forgotten, such as condom breaking during intercourse or sudden removal of the condom, slipping of the spiral, forgetting to use the birth control pill.

What Does the Morning After Pill Do?

To prevent unplanned pregnancy, what needs to be done immediately after sexual intercourse is to resort to emergency contraceptive methods. In this way, accidents that occur during intercourse or unplanned pregnancies due to unprotected intercourse can be prevented. In addition, the negativities that may occur due to unplanned pregnancies can be prevented with emergency contraception. The most preferred emergency contraceptive method is the morning-after pill, which is a single-use medication that affects ovulation or implantation in women. Morning-after pills are a preferred option in terms of emergency contraceptive methods as they are without a prescription and are easily available from pharmacies.

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How Does the Morning After Pill Provide Protection?

Knowing the mechanism and understanding the use of these drugs is necessary to use them correctly. The most common contraceptive drug on the market, containing the active ingredient ulipristal acetate, works by affecting the binding of the progesterone hormone. Depending on the period in which it is used, it may affect estrogen levels, reduce endometrium thickness, and delay ovulation. This prevents the fertilized egg from attaching to the endometrium, the egg from being released into the fallopian tube for fertilization, or the migration of sperm towards the egg.

How to Use the Morning After Pill?

The variety of drugs on the market may vary depending on the country. For this reason, the mechanism of action of each drug may vary depending on its active ingredient. However, the common thing in all of them is that if taken early, unwanted pregnancies can be prevented in different ways. The most commonly used emergency contraception method in Turkey is single-dose pills containing ulipristal acetate. For some medications, intermittent use in 2 doses may be recommended.

When to Use the Morning After Pill?

The biggest mistake in the use of these drugs, known as the morning after pill, is that it is thought that the drug should be taken 1 day after unprotected sexual intercourse. However, the highest effect of these drugs occurs when they are taken immediately after intercourse, that is, as soon as possible. According to known data, the possibility of pregnancy is prevented within the first 72 hours. However, this possibility can be successfully minimized by purchasing it as soon as it is available. The method of use may vary depending on the active ingredient of the medicine. It is usually presented as a single pill in a box with the brand printed on the back and front. For some medications, two doses may be recommended. Emergency protection is provided with 2 pills taken from the package at regular intervals.

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How Many Days Is The Morning After Pill Effective?

Vomiting, one of the side effects of these drugs, can negatively affect patients. Antiemetics, that is, vomiting inhibitors, should not be taken together with medications. In case of vomiting, drug effectiveness decreases and emergency contraception measures are recommended again. Vomiting, especially within 3 hours after using the morning-after pill, is undesirable and requires repeated use of the medication. The morning-after pill is taken as soon as possible after intercourse and prevents pregnancy. Depending on the phase of the woman’s menstrual cycle, it prevents fertilization or implantation of the fertilized zygote by exerting a hormonal or structural effect. For this reason, it is difficult to predict exactly how many days it takes for the morning-after pills to work. However, what should be known is that the drug should be taken within 3 days after sexual intercourse.

What are the Side Effects of the Morning After Pill?

After using the morning-after pill, common or rare side effects may occur in the body. In particular, intermenstrual bleeding and menstrual delays can make patients worry about the possibility of pregnancy or contraceptive failure. Morning-after pills can directly affect the ovulation pattern and cause a change in the timing of the menstrual cycle. Therefore, bleeding time may vary. In addition, spotting-like bleeding is normal after use due to the change in the structure of the uterine tissue to prevent implantation. This bleeding, which lasts for a few days, has nothing to do with implantation bleeding or menstrual bleeding during pregnancy. Bleeding is evaluated according to its severity, and a small amount of spotting type bleeding is expected. In this case, it may be recommended to read the information in the drug’s package insert and be prepared for possible side effects. The following are the most notable side effects:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Painful menstrual period
  • Pain in the groin
  • menstrual period sensitivity
  • Weakness
  • Stomach ache
  • Changing emotional states
  • Acne
  • Tiredness
  • breast tenderness
  • Bleeding between menstrual periods
  • Delays of a few days in the menstrual period
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These side effects are among the frequently seen and expected side effects. The main purpose of the morning after pill is to prevent pregnancy before it occurs or to expel the fertilized egg before it implants. However, it should be known that these drugs do not prevent pregnancy and cannot be used for voluntary termination of pregnancy. In other words, if there is pregnancy positivity, its use is useless. In addition, morning-after pills taken after unprotected sexual intercourse do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.

What are the conditions to be considered after using the morning-after pill?

Before using the morning after pill, it is necessary to be informed and aware of why this contraceptive method is taken. Because it is a big mistake for some patients to think that using the morning after pill is beneficial for sexually transmitted diseases and voluntary abortion. Morning-after pills are drugs that are effective as early as 3 days after intercourse and prevent pregnancy before it occurs. The morning after pill is not a long-term protection method and is the most frequently preferred emergency contraception method. For this reason, long-term protection should be continued by consulting a physician within a few days after using the morning-after pill. Long-term use of the morning-after pill or regular use of the morning-after pill after each unprotected sexual intercourse causes significant disorders in the person. It should not be forgotten that these drugs cause serious problems in long-term use because they affect the mental cycle and create hormonal changes. It is recommended to consult a physician before using long-term contraceptive methods after using the morning-after pill. Because some medications contain high doses of hormone supplements, the effectiveness of long-term contraceptive methods may decrease. Birth control pills, in particular, are among the drugs whose effects may be reduced by the morning-after pill.

After taking emergency contraception, no follow-up or medical examination is required, except for abnormal situations. However, in some cases, excessive bleeding, menstrual bleeding not occurring within the expected period, extremely painful menstrual periods, severe nausea and vomiting may occur. These are rare and unexpected situations. These uncommon conditions may be obvious side effects of the drug or may be a sign of a different pathology. Therefore, medical supervision may be necessary.

You can consult your doctor to consult about emergency contraception after unprotected sexual intercourse, to be examined for possible side effects after using the morning-after pill, or to receive consultancy services about other contraceptive methods.

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