Emergency contraception should be taken within 24 hours of having unprotected sex in order to prevent pregnancy. The pill works by providing a burst of synthetic hormones that break up the hormone patterns needed to produce a pregnancy.
The emergency contraception pill affects the uterine lining, making it less hospitable to a pregnancy. If a woman is midway through her menstrual cycle and takes emergency contraception, it will prevent ovulation by blocking the hormones needed for the fertilisation of the egg.
Emergency contraception pills may also disrupt sperm transport, making it difficult for the sperm to come into contact with the egg and fertilise it.
The pill is taken orally twice. The first tablet is taken within 72 hours from the time of intercourse and the second tablet 12 hours after the first one.
It is important to note that the pill is not effective if the development of implantation has already begun, this is because it does not terminate pregnancy that has already begun.
In most cases the morning-after pill is usually tolerated without many problems. Although there are a number of possible side effects or dangers that may occur.
Care should be taken by women who have breast, liver or genital cancer, those with a history of a stroke, heart attack, diabetes, hypertension, migraine headaches, kidney, cardiovascular disease and epilepsy should not use emergency contraceptives.
Women who have given birth within six weeks, those who are breastfeeding, and those who plan to have sex within the next five days should avoid taking emergency contraceptives.
Recently a 32-year-old mother reported to Rwamagana hospital complaining of pain and numbness in her legs, headaches, blurred vision, breathing difficulties, chest pain and severe abdominal pain.
When the doctor took her medical history, he found out that the patient was a regular user of the emergency contraceptive. It should be noted that some side effects are not normal and should be dealt with promptly by a doctor.
Many women experience side effects that last a few days after using emergency contraception. Among the side effects are; breast tenderness, fluid retention, irregular bleeding, nausea, headaches and vomiting.
Although these side effects are not life threatening, they are not pleasant and can make you feel under the weather for several days.
If emergency contraceptives are used more than once in a month’s time, they lose effectiveness, therefore people should not automatically assume that it is going to work.To prevent nausea, women are advised to eat something as soon they take the after morning pill.
Sometimes the use of this pill can lead to a miscarriage. If a woman experiences heavy bleeding that includes pieces of tissue, blood clots, severe cramps and an excessively long period that is accompanied by pain or fever, she is suffering from a miscarriage.
Women who are allergic to any of the ingredients in the morning-after pill should take extra caution as it contains chemical substances such as synthetic progestogen, colloidal silicon dioxide, potato starch, gelatin magnesium stearate, corn starch and lactose monohydrate.
In most cases, the morning-after pill can be purchased without a prescription by individuals who are above 18 years old because they are considered to be adults. Girls who are under this age are usually required to get a prescription first.
One of the pills is known as Levonorgestrel with 1.50 mg taken in a single dose or in two doses of 0.75 mg taken up to 12 hours apart.
Another drug is a combined regimen of 100 mcg ethinyl estradiols (drug) plus 0.50 mg of levonorgestrel (drug) taken 12 hours apart.
Treatment with either regimen should be initiated as soon as possible after intercourse because fundamental scientific research suggests that efficiency of the drug declines substantially with time.
Both regimens have been shown to be effective through five days (120 hours) after intercourse. In some locations, both regimens are available as products formulated and labeled specifically for use as emergency contraceptive products.
Alternatively, emergency contraceptive products can be formulated from a variety of regular oral contraceptive pills. The levonorgestrel-only regimen is preferred because it is more effective and is associated with a lower incidence of side effects.