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The morning-after pill


The morning-after pill is a medicine used to prevent pregnancy after intercourse, in case other forms of contraception have failed. The pharmaceutical market today offers several different brands of morning after pill and most of them are hormone-based and similar to oral contraceptives.

What is morning-after pill and how it works

The most commonly used types of morning-after pill are based on hormone levonorgestrel, which is one of the ingredients of many oral contraceptive pills. Morning after pill is also called post-coital pill and emergency contraceptive.

It is called the “morning-after” pill because it is supposed to be taken within 72 hours of having sex without contraception. They are best if used within the first 12 hours. Some recently developed pills are effective for as much as five days after the intercourse.

These pills prevent the ovaries from forming an egg or they alter the lining of the uterus so it is no longer capable of hosting the fertilized egg. They are designed to prevent pregnancy and they do not cause abortion.

Morning-after pill was first designed for rape victims, women who have been lured into sexual intercourse and for couples whose condom broke during sex. Today it is widely used by women as a form of contraception.

This form of contraception is not considered dangerous and its side effects are rare and usually mild. It is not 100 percent effective but the failure rate is very low.

Side effects of morning-after pill

In the 1990s, the morning-after pill was known for causing nausea. Today the pill is enhanced and its side effects are much less common and they are milder.  

Some nausea is normal, but only one in 60 women actually vomit. If vomiting occurs within three hours after taking the morning-after pill, it is considered to be lost and ineffective so the woman would have to take another one.

The most common side effects of this pill are nausea, headache, breast tenderness, abdominal pain, dizziness and mild vaginal bleeding or spotting.

The most important side effect of morning-after pill, or rather an unwanted outcome of it, is pregnancy. Since the pill is not 100 percent effective, pregnancy is a possibility, which is why it is recommended to do a pregnancy test even if the morning-after pill is used. The chance getting pregnant even with morning-after pill increases with the time passed between unprotected sex and taking the pill. This is precisely why it is best to take it within 12 hours after intercourse.

If the pregnancy does occur despite the use of morning-after pill, so far there are no reports of its negative effects on the baby.

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