1) What is the Morning-After-Pill?
The Morning After Pill is also called the Emergency Contraceptive Pill (ECP). ECP is not an "abortion pill". ECP can only prevent a pregnancy from happening up to 5 days after unprotected sex. If you are already pregnant ECP will NOT work. ECP will not cause an abortion or miscarriage. According to scientific information currently available, taking ECP during pregnancy will not result in an abnormal pregnancy.
2) Do you have to take the pill the actual " morning after " unprotected sex?
No, you can take the ECP up to 120 hours after unprotected sex. However, the sooner you can take it, the better it works. The effectiveness depends on when you take ECP after unprotected sex, where you are in your menstrual cycle and what type of ECP you take. However, if you follow proper instructions, it will be on average 95% effective within 24 hours, 85% effective within 25 and 48 hours and 58% effective between 49 and 72 hours.
3) Can the ECP only be used by those patients who are able to use the birth control pill as a regular method of contraception?
No, anyone is able to use the ECP, whether you are on another form of birth control or not. Almost all women can safely use ECP; in fact emergency contraception has been used worldwide for decades.
4) Are there any side effects to taking the ECP?
There are no long-term or serious side effects from using the ECP. Some women experience nausea and vomiting when taking an older form of ECP combining several days of birth control pills. You may also experience fatigue, headache, dizziness and breast tenderness and bleeding/spotting.
5) Can ECP be used instead of a regular form of birth control?
ECP is not as effective as other contraceptive methods and should therefore be used only as a back-up method of birth control. While frequent use of ECP is not recommended, repeated use over time poses no known health risks. Taking ECP will not have any effect on your future ability to get pregnant.
Repeated use of ECP suggests that you need to find a reliable and ongoing method of contraception that you can use correctly and consistently.
6) Do you need a prescription from a physician to get the ECP?
No. The emergency contraceptive pill can be obtained from your local pharmacist. Also, you have a right to emergency contraception no matter how old you are and you do not need parental consent to get emergency contraception.
7) How much will the ECP cost?
The cost of ECP differs across Canada from around $20 to $50, depending on where you live and where you choose to get ECP. ECP may be more expensive if purchased directly from a pharmacist and may be available at a lower cost from your doctor or local sexual health centre. Most insurance covers the ECP. Talk to your insurance provider to find out.
8) Does the ECP protect me from Sexually Transmitted Diseases and HIV/AIDS?
No, the ECP can only be used to prevent pregnancies in situation resulting from unplanned, unwanted or unprotected intercourse and NOT as protection against sexually transmitted diseases. Using a condom or other barrier method will help to protect against these.
9) How does the ECP work?
ECP can have three possible effects that are dependent on where you are in your menstrual cycle and when you take ECP within the 5 days:
- If your ovaries have not released your monthly egg (ovulation), ECP will delay ovulation. If no egg is released there is no chance of the egg and sperm meeting and therefore no chance of pregnancy.
- ECP may prevent fertilization (when the egg and sperm come together)
- ECP may also prevent a fertilized egg from becoming implanted in your uterus by altering the lining of the uterus (endometrium), thereby preventing a pregnancy from happening.