Naturally, they were both panicking at the prospect of an unwanted pregnancy. On a friend’s recommendation, Sara took an I-Pill the next morning. But she is not sure what to expect. There are a host of questions on her mind. You have these doubts too? Then here’s a lowdown on what to expect after taking an emergency contraceptive pill like I-Pill or Unwanted 72.
How do emergency contraceptive pills work?
Emergency contraceptive pills such as I-Pill and Unwanted 72 – also known as the morning-after pills – are composed of synthetic hormones that slow down the ovulation process. In case the ovulation has already occurred at the time of taking the pill, the pills disrupt the fertilisation of the egg by the sperm.
Should I bleed?
Yes, you will bleed after taking an emergency contraceptive pill, however, the bleeding does not start immediately. You may experience spotting or withdrawal bleeding within 5 days of taking the pill.
What about the periods – do they come immediately or can get delayed?
It depends on what stage of your menstrual cycle you’re at when you took the pill. If taken after you’ve ovulated, you can get your period as early as within a week.
If you take the pill soon after your regular period ended, it may take up to 3 to 4 weeks for bleeding to start. I-Pill or Unwanted 72 can change your menstrual cycle. In some rare cases, the bleeding may even be delayed by up to a week after the date of your last period. However, this is extremely unusual, taking a pregnancy test is recommended if your period is delayed.
Can you get pregnant even after taking an emergency contraceptive?
Like any other contraceptive measure, emergency contraceptive pills are not 100% effective. Even when taken in the first 24 hours, these pills have an effectiveness rate of 87 to 90%. When taken after 72 hours, the effectiveness dips to 72 to 87%.
The later you take the pill, the lower the chances of preventing a pregnancy. Besides, if the egg has already been fertilised by the time you take the pill, it may not work at all, as its function is to prevent pregnancy and not induce a miscarriage.
I took Unwanted 72 after 3 hours of sex – Can I have unprotected sex again for the next 72 hours?
No, emergency contraceptive pills, be it Unwanted 72 or I-Pill, only work after the intercourse. This means having unprotected sex within 72 hours of taking the pill does not automatically eliminate the risk of pregnancy. If you do have unprotected sex in this window, you will have to take another pill to avoid getting pregnant. Or better, use a condom.
How long will it take for my periods to become regular?
Your period will regularise within a month. However, the pill may alter your menstrual cycle, which means the date of your new period will be calculated from the day of withdrawal bleeding and not your last menstrual period (LMP).
What are the side effects of emergency contraceptive pills?
There are no serious long-term side effects if you take the emergency contraceptive pill as a last resort and infrequently. However, most women experience some short-term side-effects such as:
- Stomach cramps
- Soreness in breasts and thighs
- In rare cases, it can cause loose motions and vomiting too
Under what circumstance should I take I-Pill or Unwanted 72?
Of course, if you’ve had unprotected sex (consensual or otherwise), you must take an emergency contraceptive as early as possible. In addition to this, taking the pill is recommended if:
- The condom you or your partner was using ruptured during intercourse
- You didn’t use your primary protection correctly
- You have missed more than 3 doses of your birth control pill
- Suspect that your contraceptive injection or implant may no longer be effective
- Your partner didn’t withdraw in time
On the other hand, this pill must be avoided if you:
- Know or suspect that you’re already pregnant
- Have known allergies to any of the components of the pill
- Have been advised against using hormone-based medication in the past
- Are on medicines that can interact with the ingredients of the morning-after-pill. This includes medication for asthma, tuberculosis, HIV, epilepsy as well as antibiotics such as rifabutin and rifampicin
Most importantly, remember that I-Pill or Unwanted 72 is NOT a primary contraceptive method. If you are sexually active, consult your ob/gyn about your birth control options. Condoms are known to be the safest bet, as they not only cut the risk of unwanted pregnancies but also safeguard against sexually transmitted infections and diseases.
To protect the identity, the person in the picture is a model and names have been changed.