What is it?
Emergency contraception is any type of birth control used after unprotected intercourse or contraception failure has occurred. There are three types of emergency contraception: Plan B One-Step®, Ella®, and ParaGard (copper IUD). Your body and health are important, so take time to make an informed decision for you.
How does emergency contraception work?
Plan B One-Step® contains a high dose of lovonorgestrel. This is a hormone typically found in hormonal birth control pills though at much lower doses. It works by stopping ovulation, preventing fertilization (when the sperm meets the egg), and implantation (attachment to the endometrium).
Ella® is a prescription medication which contains ulipristal. This inhibits or delays ovulation and can alter the endometrium (lining of the uterus) which effects implantation.
ParaGard contains copper which is toxic to sperm and the ovum (egg). When ParaGard is inserted before ovulation it prevents fertilization and when inserted after ovulation it prevents implantation. ParaGard is a prescription and must be inserted and removed by a doctor.
What is ovulation?
Ovulation is when a mature egg (oocyte) is released from one ovary. A study, published in the National Library of Medicine, showed that most women ovulate on day 12-13 of their period cycle and are considered fertile. Sperm can live in a woman’s body for 2-5 days after intercourse. An egg lives for about 4-12 hours and will only continue to live and grow if fertilized by a sperm. A fertile window is determined when sperm can reach the egg which can only occur during ovulation. You can determine when ovulation occurs based on cervical mucous discharge.
Why is ovulation important?
These forms of emergency contraception will only work if taken when you are ovulating. Taking emergency contraception when you are not ovulating needlessly exposes you to the high dose of hormones and cost.
Is emergency contraception effective?
One study conducted by Plan B One-Step® found that 84% of pregnancies were prevented. Drug marketers claim that 7 out of 8 women who would have gotten pregnant did not. These numbers is based on the estimation of ovulation might have occurred and not actual pregnancies.
Is emergency contraception considered an abortion?
It depends on how you define the start of life. Some believe that pregnancy begins when the fertilized egg implants in the uterus wall. The scientific reality is that at contraception (when a sperm meets an egg) growth and many life defining qualities are determined in that moment like gender, eye and hair color.
Both Plan B One-Step®, Ella®, and ParaGard may prevent the newly formed life to implant in the endometrium (uterine wall) which many consider this an early form of abortion because the start of life begins at contraception.
Ella® is considered a category X drug which means it is contraindicated to be used in pregnancy. During lab testing Ella® caused abortions to animals, including rats, rabbits, and monkeys, in their first trimester when exposed to different doses. This could carry the same potential outcome for humans.
Are there side effects to emergency contraception?
Plan B One-Step® can cause: nausea, cramping, headache, dizziness, vomiting, and period changes. Plan B One-Step® has multiple drug interactions. If you have a missed period greater than one week make an appointment for a pregnancy test. Plan B One-Step® will not work if you are already pregnant.
Ella® can cause: headache, nausea, fatigue, abdominal pain, dizziness, and changes in period.
ParaGard can cause the same side effects as most IUDs: pelvic infection which can lead to infertility, ectopic pregnancy (a medical emergency), and chronic pelvic pain.
Emergency contraception is not to be taken if there is a suspected pregnancy. Emergency contraception also will not protect you from other consequences of sexual activity like sexually transmitted infections, HIV, or AIDs.
Is there another option?
Watson Pharma, Inc. (2014, January). ella- ulipristal acetate tablet: Indications and usage. Retrieved June 11, 2018, from http://pi.actavis.com/data_stream.asp?product_group=1699&p=pi&language=E#section-1
Watson Pharma, Inc. (2014, January). ella-ulipristal acetate tablet: Warnings and precautions. Retrieved June 11, 2018, from http://pi.actavis.com/data_stream.asp?product_group=1699&p=pi&language=E#section-4
Watson Pharma, Inc. (2014, January). ella-ulipristal acetate tablet: Warnings and precautions. Retrieved June 11, 2018, from http://pi.actavis.com/data_stream.asp?product_group=1699&0=pi&language=e#section-11.1
Watson Pharma, Inc. (2014, January). ella-ulipristal acetate tablet: Warnings and precautions. Retrieved June 11, 2018, from http://pi.actavis.com/data_stream.asp?product_group=1699&p=pi&language=E#section-8.1 à contraindications
Watson Pharma, Inc. (2014, January). ella-ulipristal acetate tablet: Warnings and precautions. Retrieved June 11, 2018, from https://pi.actavis.com/data_stream.asp?product_group=1699&p=pi&language=E#section-6 à adverse reactions
Goldstuck, N., Wildemeersch, D. (2015). Practical Advice or Emergency IUD contraception in Young Women. Retrieved June 11, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4532890/
Mayo Clinic. (2018). ParaGard (Copper IUD). Retrieved June 11, 2018, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/paragard/about/pac-20391270
Hawkins, S., Matzuk, M. (2010). Menstrual Cycle: Basic Biology. Retrieved June 11, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2913133/
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Medline Plus, National Library of Medicine. Pregnancy – identifying fertile days. Retrieved June 11, 2018 from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007015.htm
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Plan B One-Step® (2014). Retrieved June 11, 2018 from https://www.planbonestep.com/safety-and-side-effects.aspx
Option Line. (2018). What is Plan B One-Step®? Retrieved June 11, 2018 from http://optionline.org/emergency-contraception/plan-b-one-step/