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Updated on Oct 24, 2019. Posted on Mar 26, 2015

16 Things No One Tells You About The Morning-After Pill

Take that, broken condom.

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1. Emergency contraception comes in a few different forms.

2. The morning-after pill is not the same as the abortion pill.

3. You don't need to take it the morning after unprotected sex. You can take it that night or even a few days later.

4. The most effective form of emergency contraception isn’t a pill.

5. You might feel absolutely fine after you take the morning-after pill.

6. But your period could be a little ridiculous afterward.

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It should still come within a week of its normally scheduled arrival, but it might be earlier or later than normal, says Dweck. If it’s more than a week late, take a pregnancy test.

7. You can get emergency contraception without any prescription or ID.

8. There’s also a prescription-only pill option if you have more time/need more time.

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Another option, Ella, can prevent pregnancy when taken up to five days after sex, but you need a prescription to get it. This pill’s ingredient is ulipristal acetate, and it can delay ovulation with the same effectiveness on days one through five. There’s also research that this option works closer to the time that ovulation would occur, so it can buy you some extra time, says Trussell.

9. And as a last resort, you could use SOME versions of regular old birth control pills.

10. You can take it even if you’re on another form of birth control and you effed it up.

11. You can keep the pill version on hand like condoms.

12. You might be able to get your insurance to pay for it.

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If your insurance covers birth control prescriptions without a co-pay, it should cover the full cost of any FDA-approved method — including emergency contraception. That said, you’ll probably have to get a prescription for your company to cover it, so this is only helpful if you know you can see your doctor ASAP. If you think you might EVER need the morning-after pill, call your insurance company now to find out their policy, so you’re not stuck on hold for an hour when you actually need it. If it'll be covered (even at a reduced cost), it might be worth getting and filling the prescription now, just so you have it in case of an emergency.

13. Your weight probably doesn’t have anything to do with its effectiveness.

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There were rumors going around that the morning-after pills were less effective in women over 165 pounds and basically useless in women over 176 pounds. This was based on new labeling information on Norlevo, the European version of Plan B One-Step, which happened in late 2013. But in 2014, the European Medicines Agency conducted a review and determined that there wasn’t enough evidence to suggest that this was true, and Norlevo got rid of the extra warning label.

14. Taking the morning-after pill won’t protect you from more unprotected sex.

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So you slipped up once and took the morning after pill immediately. Can you...hypothetically…have more sex and still be protected? So far no studies have looked at this, so Trussell suggests not tempting fate. Is it possible that it could still protect you if have unprotected sex again 10 minutes after taking it? Maybe. But there’s really no research right now to back that up. Instead of speculating, just settle on a reliable method of birth control instead. Also, condoms, because emergency contraception does NOT protect against STIs.

15. You can take it again and again and again, but you shouldn't use it in place of regular birth control.

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You can even take it twice in one month if you need to, says Dweck. There’s no research to show that it has any long-term effects on your health or fertility. “Repeat use is not a safety issue at all,” says Trussell. That said, it’s definitely not as effective as having a reliable, continuous method of birth control (like the pill, ring, patch, implant, IUD, shot, condoms, etc.). Plus, it’s way more expensive when you’re talking about cost per sex. And again, it does NOT protect against any STIs — condoms are the only way to limit your exposure to those.

16. They’re not totally effective, so you might still get pregnant.

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No form of emergency contraception is 100% effective (though the copper IUD comes close). So if your period is more than a week late, you might be pregnant. It’s hard to say exactly how effective each method actually is, especially since placebo-controlled studies would be super unethical here. But here’s what we do know about the effectiveness of each:

Copper IUD: When inserted within five days of unprotected sex, it can reduce your risk of getting pregnant by 99%, according to research.

Plan B One-Step/levonorgestrel: According to Plan B One-Step’s prescribing information, 7 out of every 8 women who would have gotten pregnant will not get pregnant if they take this method correctly. And studies on levonorgestrel emergency contraception found effectiveness rates anywhere from 52% to 100%, according to an academic review of the research by Trussell and his colleagues.

Ella/ulipristal acetate: Studies have shown effectiveness rates anywhere from 62% to 85%, according to Trussell. And in studies comparing it to levonorgestrel, it was found to be more effective: When taken within 24 hours of unprotected sex, the chances of getting pregnant were 65% lower than if they took levonorgestrel, and the risk was 42% lower when taken within 72 hours.

Combined oral contraceptives (as long as they’re on this list): Using certain kinds of regular birth control pills as emergency contraception can reduce your chances of getting pregnant by about 75%, according to Trussell.

Mifeprex is the medication used to nonsurgically terminate an early pregnancy. An earlier version of this article only referred to mifepristone (the ingredient in Mifeprex) which is often used in conjunction with misoprostol.

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