What is the emergency contraception pill?
How does the emergency contraception pill work?
What are the side effects?
Will it effect my next menstrual period?
What is the effective window of time?
How many pills are there?
Where can I go to get emergency contraception?
Do I need a prescription?
Do my parents need to know?
Why do they make me take a pregnancy test?
Girlfriend took ECP, hasn't gotten her period 1 month later. Is she pregnant?
If I had sex too early after starting birth control, can I take the ECP?
Is it normal for my period to end two days after I take the ECP?
Is it normal to get your period early after taking ECP?
I took the ECP and my period has lasted for 10 days. Is this normal?
When will I get my period after I take the ECP?
How early will I get my period if I take the ECP?
If I take the second pill 20 hours late, how effective does the ECP remain?
Is it normal to experience lower abdomen pain after taking ECP?
I took the ECP and I haven't gotten my period within a week. Am I pregnant?
I took the ECP and I don't know if it delayed my period, or if I'm pregnant.
I took the ECP today and now I have cramps. Could I be pregnant?
I started my period but I have pregnancy symptoms. Could I be pregnant?
I got my period, but I'm still having unprotected sex. Could I be pregnant?
Can Ovcon 35 be used for emergency contraception?
Some important phone numbers and web sites
Q. What is the emergency contraception pill?
A. The emergency contraception pill (ECP) is a set of pills, usually two to four that contain high amounts of synthetic hormones. These pills are generally taken 72 hours, or 3 days, after one incidence of unprotected sex. The ECP is NOT RU-486 or an abortion pill. This pill is only taken if the woman is certain she is not pregnant from another incidence of unprotected sex, and will only have an effect on the woman if the unprotected sex has happened within the past three to five days. The ECP is also not meant to be used as a normal contraception method, as the high dosages of hormones may affect your body negatively. If you find yourself using the ECP often, you may want to talk to your clinician about getting on a regular form of birth control (such as the Pill or Depo-Provera, for example).
Q. How does the emergency contraception pill work?
A. The ECP works in two ways. The pill may keep your ovary from releasing an egg, which will prevent fertilization. The pill may also change your uterine lining so that, in the event that an egg is fertilized, it will not be able to implant on the uterine wall, which is generally necessary for pregnancy to continue. The ECP may not prevent an ectopic pregnancy, which is pregnancy outside of the uterus. Symptoms of ectopic pregnancies include sharp pain on either or both sides of your abdomen, abdominal pain and spotting, after a light or missed period, and feeling faint or dizzy. If you think you may have an ectopic pregnancy, visit your clinician immediately, as an ectopic pregnancy can be a life-threatening matter.
Q. What are the side effects?
A. The most common side effect is nausea, which affects about half of the women who take the ECP. About one in three women will vomit. Other side effects may include breast tenderness, irregular bleeding, fluid retention, and headaches. Discuss potential side effects and ways to alleviate those effects with your clinician. If you decide to take an anti-nausea medication, be sure to speak with your clinician first, as it is not advisable to mix medications.
Q. Will it effect my next menstrual period?
A. Your next period may be earlier or later, heavier or lighter, or spotty. The ECP affects every woman differently. If you do not get your next period within three weeks of taking the ECP, or you begin to show signs of pregnancy, please visit a clinician to take a pregnancy test. If you see a clinician before you get your next period, don’t forget to tell them that you have taken the ECP during this menstrual cycle.
Q. What is the effective window of time?
A. If taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex, the ECP can reduce the chance of pregnancy by 70-80%. After 72 hours, the effectiveness decreases.
Q. How many pills are there?
A. “Mini-pills” are progestin-only and the package typically contains two pills. One is taken as soon as possible, and the next is taken 12 hours later. Mini-pills can also be taken at the same time, if the sequence is inconvenient; however, you may want to speak with your clinician about the sequence and read the instructions thoroughly. The most common mini-pill is Plan B. “Combination pills” are progestin and estrogen. The package typically contains four pills; two are taken as soon as possible, and the other two are taken 12 hours later. The most common combination pill is Preven.
Q. Where can I go to get emergency contraception?
A. Planned Parenthood, UIC Family Medicine, perhaps even your own doctor or gynecologist (but call ahead to be certain). Many Chicago public clinics also offer the ECP.
You may also choose to get ECP directly from a pharmacy if you are over the age of 18.
Q. Do I need a prescription?
A. No, The ECP is now sold over the counter to women 18 and over at pharmacies throughout the USA and on campus including the University Village location at Maxwell and Halsted.
Q. Do my parents need to know?
A. If you feel comfortable talking to your parents about this matter, by all means tell them. However, if you do not want your parents to know, most clinics are extremely well versed in keeping your medical records private, even from your parents. To ensure privacy, make sure you do not use your parents insurance, as they may get a bill that details the services you have gone through.
Q. Why do they make me take a pregnancy test?
A. Although the ECP has not been shown to harm an unborn fetus, it is not advisable to take ECPs when you are pregnant. If you have not had your period within the last month, typically the clinic that you are going to will ask you to take a pregnancy test just to ensure that you are not already pregnant.
QUESTION: My girlfriend and I had unprotected sex. She took plan b and got her period. 1 month later her period has yet to start what’s going on. She used the pill only once and we have been sexually dormant between her last period and today. Is it the pills that isn’t making her get her period or is she pregnant?
ANSWER: Emergency Contraceptive Pills (ECP) can affect a woman's menstrual cycle- after taking ECP, a woman's next period may be earlier or later, heavier or lighter, or spotty. The ECP affects every woman differently. Women who do not get their period within three weeks of taking ECP, or who start to show signs of pregnancy should visit a clinician to take a pregnancy test. If your girlfriend thinks she might be pregnant, it is recommended she take a pregnancy test.
QUESTION: I am wearing the birth control patch. I had unprotected sex after 42 hrs. Can I take the ECP and reduce the risk of getting pregnant?
ANSWER: Emergency Contraceptive Pills (ECP) are generally are taken to reduce the likelihood of becoming pregnant after an incident of unprotected sex, or if the regular method of birth control failed during sexual intercourse. If you are concerned about having unprotected sex, it is recommended you speak with your clinician; s/he can help you determine if ECP is right for you. For more information about ECP, check out the questions at the top of the list.
QUESTION: I had brief unprotected sex for a little while and then my boyfriend ended up putting on a condom. I got my period the next day. He let me know he was worried so I went to get the morning after pill. I was still on my period. My period ended 2 days later. I thought this was normal since I took a form of birth control. A couple days later I had spotting for one day. It has been 28 days since the start of that period the day after I had sex and I have not started my period again and I am very worried. What are the chances I could be pregnant?
ANSWER: Please see the Pregnancy FAQ and the Emergency Contraception FAQ for answers to your questions.
QUESTION: i took ECP and my period came early. Is this normal?
ANSWER: Please read the Emergency Contraception FAQ for the answer to your question.
QUESTION: I took the morning after pill about two weeks ago and i got my period a few days after that. im scared because i still have my period. its been about 10 days. i know that plan b can change you're period but should i see a doctor?
ANSWER: The Emergency Contraception Pill (ECP) affects every woman differently; what is 'normal' for one woman may be different than what is 'normal' for another woman. If you are concerned about the length of your period it is recommended you see your clinician.
For more information about ECP, please visit our ECP FAQ.
QUESTION: I had Sex on the 25 janurary 05 without a condom a few hours after that i went to the clinic and took the ECP but im worried because i havent had my period yet for february
ANSWER: For information about Emergency Contraceptive Pills (ECP) please visit our Emergency Contraception FAQ.
QUESTION: Hi. I recently took the morning after pill. I had gotten my original period on January 19th. I had sex 2 days before my period ended and the condom broke. I went to a clinic and I took the pills. I was sick. But during the time that I was taking the pills I didn't see any spotting. Now, being February 1st ...I saw heavy bleeding. And I'm not sure if this is my period or if it could just be spotting. How early can a girl get her period after she has taken the pills? thanks.
ANSWER: For the answer to this and other questions related to Emergency Contraception (EC), please visit our EC FAQ.
QUESTION: I was givin ECP, but I'm not sure what kind. I was told to take the second dose 12 hours after the first dose, however I did not wake up at the correct time, and ended up taking the second dose about 20 hours later. How much higher did I raise the possiblity of becoming pregant?
ANSWER: Emergency contraceptive pills (ECP) prevent pregnancy about 75-89% of the time if taken within 120 hours (5 days) after unprotected intercourse. As with any medication, it is important to take ECP as prescribed by your clinician. Not taking the pills as directed can alter the effectiveness; how much it alters it is hard to say. Pregnancy is dependent on a number of factors, and therefore it would be difficult to predict how taking the pills late altered the possibility of pregnancy based on the circumstances surrounding your specific case. If you have any questions regarding ECP and it's effectiveness, it is recommended that you speak to your clinician.
QUESTION: is it normal to experience pain in the lower abdomen for a few days after taking the morning after pill, or could this be a sign of an ectopic pregnancy.
ANSWER: Nausea, vomiting, breast tenderness, irregular bleeding, fluid retention, cramping and headaches are a few of the symptoms one may experience when using Emergency Contraceptive Pills (ECP).
ECPs may not prevent ectopic pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancies are pregnancies in which the embryo develops outside the uterus. They must be treated or they will cause serious complications.
If you think you may have an ectopic pregnancy, it is important that you get medical attention immediately. Signs of ectopic pregnancy may include: severe pain on one or both sides of the lower abdomen, abdominal pain and spotting, especially after a very light or missed menstrual period, as well as feeling faint or dizzy.
Currently, there is no reason to believe that ECPs will harm a fetus. However, it is not advised that you use ECPs if you know you are pregnant.
QUESTION: I recently had sex with my partner and the condom broke. The next day I went to the clinic and got on emergency contraceptive. It was a series of 2 pills, one taken 12 hours later after taking the first pill. For the few days following I experienced light bleeding and cramps, and I was told that I should receive my period within 21 days, or around a week later than when I usually get my period. I should have gotten my real period this past Wednesday, today is Sunday...and still no period. Is this a strong chance that I am pregnant? I have been experiencing cramps and stomach aches, but I have also been very stressed anticipating my period, along with the stress of school, finals, etc. I also started taking diet pills during the past week (Trim Spa) could this have effected my period in any way?
ANSWER: When taking emergency contraception there are side effects, one side effect is when a woman's next period comes. As far as Planned Parenthood states, this could be earlier or later than normal and your period could be heavier or lighter than normal.
Since the clinician you saw said that there is a possibility it would be approximately a week after your normal period before your next period will come, which would be this Wednesday, then your period may come very soon. Just because your period hasn't come earlier in the week does not mean their is a higher chance of pregnancy. Stress can also play a role in some women's menstrual cycle.
If your period does not come though, it is recommended you see your clinician again for a check-up as there could be a chance pregnancy has occurred. If you see a different clinician than before, it's recommended you let them know you took emergency contraception pills as well as the date you took them.
QUESTION: I took the morning after pills on 28th October, the day when my partner's condom broke. My last period was on 1st October and till now (6th Nov), my expected period has not come yet. But today, I experienced really light spotting which lasted for only a very short while. I've been feeling dizzy lately. What are my chances of being pregnant? Could it be ectopic pregnancy? I'll be leaving for Cambodia in 4 days time. I need to know if I require medical attention immediately. Thanks.
ANSWER: After taking Emergency Contraception Pills (ECP) your period can be earlier/later and heavier/lighter, but because you have having other signs it is suggested you see your clinician as soon as possible - before you leave for Cambodia.
If you do not have a clinician and are a UIC student you are able to go to the UIC Family Medicine Clinic , 312 -996-2901.
QUESTION: I had just finished my period about a minute before me and my boyfriend had sex with a condom. The condom broke. He pulled out before he came. I got the morning after pill. I took the morning after pill today, and I have cramps today. What is the chance I could be pregnant?
ANSWER: According to Planned Parenthood the "side effects associated with the use of ECP usually taper off one or two days after the second dose has been taken. - Less than half of the women who take the combined pills feel sick to their stomachs, but only for about 24 hours. - Fewer than one out of five women throw up with combined pills. - The risk of nausea and vomiting is lower with progestin-only ECPs. - Breast tenderness, irregular bleeding, fluid retention, dizziness, and headaches may also occur. Frequent use of ECPs may cause periods to become irregular and unpredictable. The side effects of anti-nausea medication may include drowsiness. Please follow the precautions on the package insert.
Emergency contraception may not prevent ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy is one that develops outside the uterus. It must be treated to prevent complications that may be fatal.
If you think you may have an ectopic pregnancy, get medical attention immediately. Signs of ectopic pregnancy include - severe pain on one or both sides of the lower abdomen - abdominal pain and spotting, especially after a very light or missed menstrual period - feeling faint or dizzy" As for the chances of you being pregnant goes, if you took the first EC pill within 72 hours of vaginal intercourse they can reduce the risk of pregnancy by 75 - 89 percent.
QUESTION: I had sex with my boyfriend and we had unprotected sex and he pulled out but I felt him ejaculate really close to my vaginal opening if not exactly on it. We were scared and we went to a clinic to get the morning after pill. I took the pill and a few days later I started my menstrual period I’m still paranoid and I think I am pregnant. I have had symptoms like feeling really, really tired. I would like to know if there is a possibility that the morning after pill did not work? and I could be pregnant because I have some of the symptoms.
ANSWER: Emergency Contraceptive Pills (ECP) Reduce the Risk of Pregnancy by up to 95 Percent, so there is only a 5% possibility someone can still become pregnant after taking ECP's. If you are still nervous after reading this response, I recommend you schedule an appointment with your clinician.
After You Take the Pills
Reference: Planned Parenthood
Side Effects of ECPs (which usually taper off one or two days after the second dose has been taken)
Reference: Planned Parenthood
Frequent use of ECPs may cause periods to become irregular and unpredictable. The side effects of anti-nausea medication may include lightheadedness, dizziness, or feeling spacey.
QUESTION: I had sex with my boyfriend, and then I took the morning after pill, it made me come on almost straight away but I only stayed on for a couple of days but it has been 2 weeks and I am still having unprotected sex with him and now I’m not feeling well I have backache its at the bottom of my back and I've been sick could I be pregnant?
ANSWER: The morning-after pill is prescribed by a clinician within 72 hours of unprotected sex/failed contraceptive method. It is a combination of pills usually taken over a period of about 2 - 3 days. If you continue to have unprotected vaginal sex, there is a possibility of pregnancy as the morning-after pill only decreases the chance of pregnancy from one sexual act. It does not reduce your risk of pregnancy for days/weeks at a time and is not designed to be used as a regular contraceptive method.
The other factor that plays a large role in if you are pregnant or not is when you ovulate (release of the egg from the ovaries into the fallopian tubes). If you have a regular cycle, for instance a 28-day cycle, day 14 is when you usually ovulate (day 15 if it's a 30-day cycle, etc.). Day 1 is the start of your period. Ovulation is a woman's peak time to become pregnant. Now, sperm can live in a woman's body for 5 - 7 days and the egg lives for about 1 day. So, if you have unprotected vaginal sex up to 5 - 7 days before ovulation, there is a higher possibility of pregnancy than other times during your cycle. This doesn't mean this is the only time you are able to get pregnant during your cycle, it's just a higher likelihood during this time period.
Currently, the only way you'll be able to know if you are pregnant at this point (since it is very early into the possibility) is to have a pregnancy test done by your clinician. You also have the option of waiting to see if you miss your next period and take an over-the-counter pregnancy test or see your clinician at that point. If you do not have a clinician and are a UIC student you are able to go to the UIC Family Medicine Clinic. Please visit the Wellness Center's website at www.wellctr.uic.edu to find contact information on Family Medicine as well as other clinic's in Chicago.
If you'd like to look into your options on how to protect yourself please stop by the Wellness Center to talk with the Health Educator. The Wellness Center also offers free condoms to UIC students.
QUESTION: Can ovcon 35 be used for ECP?
ANSWER: Emergency contraception (EC) needs to be prescribed by a clinician. It is not safe or healthy for your body to take medicine that is not prescribed specifically for you by your clinician. If you would like to find out where you can talk to a clinician about the possibility of EC, please visit our Pregnancy Testing Sites page with a list of area clinics including Family Medicine here at UIC and Planned Parenthood locations.
Emergency Contraception Hotline (24 hours, English and Spanish)
Planned Parenthood General Information
Planned Parenthood ECP by phone
Planned Parenthood Emergency Contraception Information
General ECP information
The Emergency Contraception Website
Walgreens Birth Control Information
Online ECP prescription websites
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