YEP Volunteer Blog Post: Emergency Contraception and its Myths!

Accidents can happen, that’s why there is emergency contraception (EC) – a safe and effective way to prevent pregnancies after you had unprotected sex. So being clued up on emergency contraception is a must for anybody wanting to enjoy worry-free sex. However, it can be hard sometimes to figure out what are facts and what’s unhelpful fiction when you talk to your friends about contraception or look up stuff on the internet.

So let’s have a look at the most common myths about emergency contraception!

  1. There is only one method of emergency contraception available.

Nah! There are actually two forms of emergency contraception that can prevent a pregnancy after you had unprotected sex. The emergency IUD and the emergency contraception pill(s).

  1. Emergency contraception can only be used ‘the morning after’.

I am sure you’ve heard someone referring to emergency contraception as the ‘morning after pill’ before. However, the term is actually really misleading. Emergency contraception can be used up to five days after you had unprotected sex. Although it depends a little on what kind of emergency contraception you want to use. So as a rule of a thumb its good to use emergency contraception ASAP after you had unprotected sex but you can still use it after the morning after has passed!

  1. Emergency contraception causes abortion.

Emergency contraception methods prevent pregnancy; they do not interfere with already existing pregnancies! What they can do is delaying ovulation and preventing fertilisation of the egg.

  1. Emergency contraception can only be used once.

Taking the morning-after pill whenever you need to won’t hurt you and taking it more often than just once won’t decrease its effectiveness. But it’s not a good idea to use the morning-after pill as your regular, go-to method of birth control. This is because they are less effective than non-emergency contraception methods like the implant or the contraceptive pill. And it can get expensive!

  1. Emergency contraception is hard to get.

Not really actually! You can even get some emergency contraception pills over the counter at most drugstores and pharmacies without having to ask your doctor for a prescription.

If you want more information about emergency contraception, its working mechanisms, their different types, or where to get them, check out SHQ’s website: https://shq.org.au/download/emergency-contraception/

There are two types of EC that you can use to prevent a pregnancy after you had unprotected sex:

  1. The IUD – the most effective type of EC.
  2. The EC pill(s) – maybe you’ve heard about it as the morning-after pill?

Both methods are effective if they are used within 120 hours (five days) after you had unprotected sex. Importantly, there are two different types of EC pills:

  1. An ulipristal acetate pill (Ella)
    • You will need to get a prescription for Ella!
    • Most effective type of EC pill
    • You can take Ella up to five days after you had unprotected sex and it is as effective on the first day as it is on the fifth!
  2. A levonorgestrel pill (Plan B One Step, Next Choice One Dose, Take Action, My Way, AfterPill)
    • You can get them over the counter in most drugstores and pharmacies and you don’t need a prescription!
    • They work best if you take them within 72 hours (three days) after you had unprotected sex (the sooner you take them the better they work!)

You can use EC to prevent a pregnancy if you did not use a condom or another birth control method when you had vaginal sex, if you messed up your regular birth control (maybe you’ve forgotten to take the pill?), if your condom broke/slipped off after ejaculation, if your partner did not pull out in time, or if you were forced to have unprotected vaginal sex. However, you should not use it as your regular method of birth control because it is not as effective as non-emergency birth control methods like the pill or IUDs.

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