Consultant Gynecologist & Obstetrician
Medicover Hospitals / 16 Feb 2022
What Causes Unplanned Pregnancy?
- Sometimes unplanned pregnancies happen because neither of the partners uses birth control.
- Some unexpected pregnancies happen even when birth control is involved.
- Condoms can break and birth control pills sometimes fail.
- Abortion is a frequent consequence of unwanted pregnancy.
- The incorrect use of contraceptives can also lead to an unwanted pregnancy.
- The unavailability of emergency contraceptive pills can lead to an unwanted pregnancy.
- Inadequate knowledge about sex and its consequences can also lead to unplanned pregnancies.
Emergency Contraception and Unprotected Sex:
- Emergency contraception is a method of birth control that one can use if they had sex without using birth control or if their birth control method did not work properly.
- Emergency contraceptive pills are different from abortion pills. If a woman is already pregnant, emergency contraceptive pills do not stop or harm her pregnancy.
- Emergency contraception is also known as the "morning-after pill," but you don't have to wait until the morning after unprotected intercourse to take it.
- High fever
- Low oxygen level
- Loss of smell and taste
What Are My Emergency Contraceptive Options?
The Morning-After Pills
Copper Intrauterine Device (IUD)
Efficacy of Emergency Contraception
- About 1 or 2 out of 100 women using ECPs will get pregnant despite taking the pills within 72 hours of having unprotected sex.
- The name "morning after" is somewhat misleading because emergency contraception is most effective when taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex.
- Emergency contraception will not prevent pregnancy if you have unprotected sex after taking ECPs.
- Emergency contraception does not prevent all pregnancies. Therefore, one should see a doctor if she misses her next expected period after taking ECPs.
- Spotting between periods
- Heavier bleeding during your period
- Breast tenderness
How Can Unwanted Pregnancy be Prevented?
- The condom is the only form of contraception that protects against most STIs and prevents pregnancy.
- The oral contraceptive pill is a small tablet that is taken once a day. There are a few different types of pills to choose from, so it's all about finding the one that's right for you.
- The emergency contraceptive pill can be used to prevent pregnancy after sex if birth control was not used or if a condom broke during sexual intercourse.
Contraception...Do I get to Choose?!
Contraception implies means used to prevent pregnancy. They can be natural, pharmacological, mechanical or surgical. The methods available are numerous and the choice finally will be based on what suits your present requirement.
The natural methods are abstinence or withdrawal - wherein ejaculation is avoided within the female genital tract. As you might expect, this is not the most reliable method, with a high failure rate.
Among the pharmacological methods and month on month usable ones are the oral contraceptive pills. These are a combination of the hormones estrogen and progesterone which act by inhibiting ovulation and thereby preventing a pregnancy. It would need to be taken for 21 days without missing a pill and when done so, has a pregnancy prevention rate of upto 99.9%. Considering that it is taken on a month on month basis, return to fertility is immediate after stopping the pill. This therefore is the most commonly chosen first choice for newlyweds who are still unsure of their pregnancy plans and want some time to think.
So is it a magic pill or are there any risks or side effects?
No medication comes without side effects. And this is no exception.
We classify the side effects into minor side effects and major risks.
Side effects generally range from nausea, vomiting, breast tenderness, bloating and sometimes breakthrough bleeding. But the risks are thrombotic and embolic events, aggravation of liver disease, aggravation of existing blood pressure conditions, worsening of vascular disease.
All of these increase drastically in smokers and hence these pills are preferably avoided in women who smoke regularly. Most of these side effects are known to be caused by the estrogen content of the pill. So presently newer contraceptive pills containing only progesterone are available with similar efficacy.
Hence meeting your doctor once before you start it on your own would be a better choice so that she can screen you and advise you of the appropriate oral contraceptive pill.