If you have had unprotected sex and now you are wondering if you could be pregnant, you may have heard about Plan B, the “emergency contraception” from friends and are wondering what it is, and if you should take it. (NOTE: The Morning-After pill is NOT the same as the Abortion pill.)
WHAT THE MORNING-AFTER PILL IS
The Morning-After pill contains a high dose of progesterone (levonorgestrel) which is found (in smaller doses) in many kinds of birth control pills. It is meant to be taken as soon as possible within 72 hours following unprotected sex in order to prevent pregnancy. (NOTE: The Morning-After Pill does not protect you from HIV/AIDS or any other sexually transmitted disease (STD) or infection.)
HOW THE MORNING-AFTER PILL WORKS
Depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle, there are three ways in which it might affect you:
- If you have not yet ovulated, the pill may prevent the release of an egg. If there is no egg released to meet the sperm, fertilization (conception) cannot occur.
- It may affect the lining of your fallopian tubes, so that even if you have ovulated the sperm cannot reach the egg. Again, no fertilization can occur.
- Changes in the lining of your uterus may occur, so that if an egg has already been released and fertilized by the sperm, it could prevent the embryo from implanting in your uterus, ending its life. If this happens an abortion will occur, because each human life begins as an embryo.
- It will not end an ectopic pregnancy.
HOW TO KNOW IF AN EGG HAS BEEN FERTILIZED
That’s the problem; there’s no way to tell. But we know that sperm can reach the fallopian tubes just minutes after intercourse, so fertilization can occur then if an egg has already been released, which means that there’s a very real possibility that a new human life may already have begun by the time you wake up “the morning after”.
- Nausea, vomiting, cramping and abdominal pain*, fatigue, headache, dizziness, breast tenderness.
*Cramping and abdominal pain may mask the similar symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy, which is:
- A potentially life-threatening condition in which a fertilized egg implants itself outside the uterus, often in the fallopian tubes. If you have severe cramping 3-5 weeks after taking the Morning-After pill, see your health care professional to verify it is not an ectopic pregnancy.
- If an embryo is growing in a fallopian tube you will need to seek emergency care.