What You Need To Know About The Morning-After Pill

If you’ve ever wondered what the morning-after pill is or how it works as emergency contraception, we’ve got the answers you need.

If you’re not ready to start a family yet, there are plenty of ways to take your fertility matters into your own hands. While birth control methods are best practiced regularly or right before sex, there’s a great option if you find yourself in an unexpected unprotected situation: the morning-after pill, or emergency contraception. Dr. Premitha Damodaran, a consultant with Pantai Hospital Kuala Lumpur’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, gives us the low-down on the morning-after pill.

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What is emergency contraception (EC)?

“EC or the morning-after pill is a safe means of preventing a pregnancy after unprotected sex, or potential contraceptive failure such as condom breakage or missed doses of regular contraceptives.”

How does EC work?

“Sperm can survive up to five days in the body after ejaculation and so there is no time in the menstrual cycle when there is absolutely no risk of pregnancy following unprotected sex. EC works because it inhibits or delays the release of eggs from the ovary. This means there won’t be an egg for sperm to fertilise for the time it stays viable in the female genital tract, thus preventing unwanted pregnancies.”

How would I know if EC is suitable for me?

“Any woman within childbearing age whose contraceptives have failed or has had unprotected sex can use EC. You do not need a prescription from a doctor to purchase EC from your nearest pharmacy.  Just remember that this is meant as a backup for occasional emergency use, and not as a regular birth control method. When sexually active, a woman must make her choice of regular contraception that suits her lifestyle, health, as well as frequency of sex.”

Which EC pill should I choose?

“Any EC that works with consistent efficacy for up to five days after unprotected sex is a good choice. EC works better the sooner you take it after unprotected sex. Also, you might want to use a single-dose EC for convenience to reduce the risk of forgetting to take the second pill.”

Should I be worried about side effects?

“Common temporary side effects may include headache, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, menstrual pain, and abdominal or back pain. However not every woman will experience with side effects.”

To find out more about the morning-after pill or to obtain a dose, visit your nearest doctor or pharmacist. See also: Birth Control In Malaysia.

From the print edition.