A) What is emergency contraception (EC)?
Emergency contraception is used to prevent unwanted pregnancy in case of an emergency like condom rupture/ slippage, forgotten birth control pill, unplanned unprotected intercourse or sexual harassment/ rape. IT IS NOT TO BE USED AS A REGULAR METHOD OF CONTRACEPTION & IS ONLY FOR AN EMERGENCY SITUATION.
B) What are the options for EC?
The most commonly used is a hormonal pill (I-pill, also called the morning after pill). It is to be taken by mouth within 72 hours of intercourse.If taken beyond 72 hours, it is associated with a higher failure rate.Copper T (a device that goes inside the womb) can also work as EC and it can be inserted up to 120 hours (5 days) of unprotected sex.
C) What is the failure rate of EC?
I pill when taken within 72 hours is able to prevent 90% of pregnancies. Copper T is more effective and has a failure rate of around 1%.
D) How is the I Pill to be taken?
One tablet containing 1.5 mg (or 2 tablets containing 0.75 mg) Levonorgestrel (hormone) is to be taken by mouth with water. If there is vomiting within 30 min of taking the tablet, the dose should be repeated.
E) Are there any side effects of EC?
The I pill can cause some nausea, vomiting, headache or breast pain. These effects are usually short lasting and self-limiting. It can cause some irregularity of the menstrual cycle and the next period can come little early or little late or it can come on time as well.
F) What if the I pill fails and I become pregnant?
As the I pill is not 100% effective, one should always rule out pregnancy by doing a urine pregnancy test at least 3 weeks after the act of unprotected intercourse. If the test is positive, you can decide to continue as no major malformations have been reported in the babies conceived after EC failure. In case you do not want to continue with the pregnancy, you should meet your doctor to discuss regarding pregnancy termination.
G) Can I take I pill more than once in the same cycle?
One dose of I pill can protect from 2 episodes of unprotected sex if they are no more than 12 hours apart. Beyond that, the pill will not provide protection against any further episode (in the same menstrual cycle) and the pill needs to be repeated. It can be taken more than once in the same cycle.