Accidents happen. We all know and accept this. And yet, we live in a culture where we’re not quite so forgiving when accidents happen during sex. Condoms break, birth control is used incorrectly or–unfortunately–non-consensual acts can lead to some unfortunate surprises that victims shouldn’t be forced to deal with. That’s why it’s amazing that emergency contraception is an option for folks who recently dealt with some unfortunate sexual circumstances. They block eggs from being released for fertilization or by blocking an egg from being fertilized in the uterus by an ambitious lil’ sperm. Basically, emergency contraception kicks ass and we should all be happy that it exists!
Like everything else surrounding sexual health and people with vaginas, this is an issue that is full of controversy. But here at Gurl we’re big supporters of our readers taking a stand when it comes to their sexual health. So if you’re ever stuck in a situation in which you need some emergency contraception like Plan B, here are seven things you need to know.
There Are Different Types Of Emergency ContraceptionIf your only understanding of emergency contraception is Plan B then get ready to get schooled. Emergency contraception pills can be split into two categories in most countries: LNG pills and UPA pills. LNG pills contain a synthetic version of the hormone progesterone called levonorgestre. They’re sold under the popular brand name, Plan-B. But generic versions of it exist, too, under the names One Step Next Choice, My Way, and Levonelle. UPA pills contain Ulipristal acetate and is sold under the brand name Ella. It’s available in several different countries but it’s not available to pick up at any old store in the United States like Plan-B is; you need a prescription. You could also have a copper IUD inserted after unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy but that’s a legit medical procedure and when you’re trying to prevent pregnancy after the fact, you don’t have all the time (or money) in the world to get that done. Check out this list of different emergency contraceptions available around the world.
Time Is KeyTime is of the essence when it comes to emergency contraception. Er, hence the word emergency. Emergency contraception can prevent pregnancy up to five days (120 hours) after having unprotected sex. The LNG pills like Plan-B and are most effective up to three days after unprotected sex, but UPAs like Ella are effective for the full five. But no matter what method you use, get it done ASAP. Don’t wait around til the last minute!
Know Where To Buy ItYou should be able to pic up LNGs like Plan-B over the counter, meaning you should be able to roll up to any drugstore and buy some. Yep, the same place where you buy your shampoo and heap makeup is the same place you can buy some emergency contraception. As mentioned earlier, Ella requires a prescription. Even though it is more effective for a wider range of women, it could take longer to access. Again, time is key so if you can just grab some from the drugstore on the corner then do it!
Weight MattersThis might be news to you: The effectiveness of your emergency contraception not only depends on time, but how much you weigh. If you take an LNG like Plan-B and you’re over 165 plans, it can be less effective. If you’re over 175 they can be entirely ineffective. So what should you do if you weigh more than 175 lbs? Take Ella or opt for the Copper IUD. You can still try to take LNGs if you’re over 175, but they’re not guaranteed to work whatsoever.
Side Effects Can Definitely HappenGood news: Side effects for the morning after pill are super minimal. Your period might come earlier or later than usual and might be heavier or lighter. You might experience some dizziness, nausea or breast tenderness, too. But other than that you’ll be fine.
Emergency Contraception Should Never Replace Birth ControlOne of the biggest things that anti-emergency contraception advocates (eugh) rage about is the idea of people using pills like Plan-B as birth control. Where they get the idea of people using this as birth control, who the hell knows, but yeah…don’t prove these idiots right by using it as BC. Not only is it not the most practical way to prevent pregnancy, it’s also ridiculously expensive. It’s just…no, don’t even think about it. Also, emergency contraception might reduce your chance of pregnancy by 90 percent, but it won’t prevent your chances of getting an STD.
This Will Not Work If You're Already PregnantThis ain't the abortion pill. Emergency contraception is absolutely ineffective if you’re already pregnant! That’s why you have that little window of time so that you can prevent pregnancy before one lucky sperm makes its way to your lovely little egg. Nah, let’s not let that happen.
What else do you want to know about emergency contraception? Have you ever used it? What was your experience like? Tell us in the comments!