I don’t know if I have ever ran across a topic that is more widely mis understood than emergency contraception (ECP’s). ECP’s are essentially high-dose birth control pills that are taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex to prevent an egg from implanting into the uterine wall. Certainly, there are many strong opinions on their use, but I would like to make one point right away. Time and time again, patients ask for ECP’s believing that they are going to get “the abortion pill”–or what has been known in the news media as RU-486.
Emergency contraception is NOT RU-486.
Emergency contraception works the same way that birth control pills do–by making the reproductive environment unable to support a pregnancy by thinning the lining of the uterus so a potentially fertilized egg cannot implant and grow. If you are already pregnant, or have waited longer than the 72 hour window to take emergency contraception, a pregancy will not be stopped or harmed.
The need for emergency contraception may have a variety of reasons, the most common of which include rape or sexual assault, a broken or slipped condom, or simply an act of unprotected sex.
ECP’s come in a few forms. Known as “Plan B”, or “the morning after pill”, in some clinics and offices, this particular brand is two pills–taken exactly twelve hours apart. In some cases, your doctor may recommend you take several regular birth control pills at one time to create the same effect, however this can ONLY be done through and by a licensed, and qualified physician. ECP’s will not protect you from sexually transmitted disease–only pregnancy–and can reduce your chances of getting pregnant by about 90% compared to not taking the drug at all.
ECP’s have been known to cause some temporary nausea and vomiting due to the high hormones. It is recommended that they be taken with food to reduce these symptoms.
Dr. Hessel is availiable to discuss ECP’s privately with you. If you think you may need emergency contraception, but aren’t sure, you only have a small window of time. Make an appointment now so that you can talk with Dr. Hessel and make plans for more reliable birth control–and never need ECP’s again.