Contraception is an important part of public healthcare requirement and control over one's fertility has been important for female empowerment. These days, the feminist movement has stoked dialogues about fertility control and contraception, giving women the autonomy over their own body. Pro-choice movement around the world has increased awareness among women about their own reproductive health. These days, emergency contraceptives have been gaining popularity, offering women a quick-fix solution to contraceptive failures. The trend has also started another distressing problem, contraceptive abuse. On World Contraception Day, Dr Neha Karve Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi answers pertinent questions about emergency contraception and its side effects.
What is Contraception and Emergency Contraception?
Contraception can be defined as a medical intervention used to prevent pregnancy that occurs due to unprotected sexual activity. Contraceptive methods are used as a preventive measure before intercourse takes place. Emergency contraception, on the other hand, is a measure taken after the sexual activity when the normal contraceptives fail -- for example, if the condom breaks. What are the themes and objectives of World Contraception Day?
But some women make the mistake of using emergency contraception as a primary method of contraception. That's a big risk because it can have harmful side effects.Emergency contraceptives should be used only if the primary method fails.
What Are The Methods of Emergency Contraception?
There are two types of emergency contraception available: Emergency contraception pill and Intra-Uterine Device (IUD) insertion.
Emergency Contraceptive Pill: The highly advertised pill, also known as the "morning after pill", is basically a large dose of hormone that alters your normal hormonal cycle and prevents the release of the egg from the ovaries or stops the sperm and egg from meeting. However, if implantation has already occurred, emergency contraceptives are of no use. That's why its advised to take the pill within 72 hours. Morning-After Pill Can Still Cause Pregnancy on Certain Days of the Month!
Intrauterine Device (IUD): Known commonly as Copper T, the intrauterine (inside the uterus) device is inserted within 120 hours ( 5 days) after unprotected sex. IUD has the best success rate in preventing unwanted pregnancies. It plugs the pill's shortcomings by preventing the embryo from implanting on the uterine walls. As long as it is kept inside, the copper T offers continued protection against future pregnancies. Birth Control Pills for Men? 3 Things You Should Know About Male Contraceptive Pills or DMAU
Whom Should I Talk To Before Taking Contraceptive Pills?
Although a lot of women use emergency contraceptives without consultation, since most of them are available over-the-counter, it is best that you speak to your gynaecologist first. A visit to your doctor can confirm whether the pill is suited for you. The efficiency of the pill can be compromised if you have underlying conditions or are taking other medications. Your gynaecologist can also tell you which method of contraception is best suited for you after a check-up.
What are the Side Effects of Emergency Contraceptives?
Remember that emergency contraceptives should be used only if other methods fail. Some women may experience problems such as nausea and vomiting after taking the emergency contraceptive pills. In case that happens within three hours, another pill can be taken.
Emergency contraceptives also create menstrual problems by delaying or prolonging periods. If your periods are delayed for more than seven days, check for pregnancy.
Pills also raise the risk for ectopic pregnancies where the egg gets implanted outside the uterus. However, currently, the pill is not known to cause developmental problems in the child, if you get pregnant.