Emergency contraception. Let’s be honest – it’s a phrase that nobody wants to have to use in their local clinic. If you are using it, you’ve obviously run into a little bit of trouble. Emergency contraception is there for those scary, unexpected times that absolutely anybody can run into. It’s not always about being careful, because accidents can happen no matter how carefully you conduct yourself. It should be about judgements and it should never, ever be about shame. After all, it is that misplaced and misguided sense of embarrassment that forces millions of women to carry unexpected pregnancies every year.
There is pride and there is self respect in knowledge. As a liberal, liberated woman you have a right to know exactly what types of emergency contraception are out there on the market, how much they are likely to cost and how readily available they are. Knowledge is power – so be a powerful female who’s proud to be in the know.
This is the most common form of emergency contraception. When people in the UK refer to ‘the morning after pill,’ this is almost always what they’re talking about. Levonelle is a small, sugar coated tablet that stops your ovaries from releasing an egg after unprotected sex. It can be taken up to 72 hours after the sexual act in question, but it is most effective when taken within 12 hours. Levonelle can be taken by almost all women and will prevent up to 95% of pregnancies if used correctly.
Levonelle is widely available in pharmacies, sexual health clinics and doctor’s surgeries. It is free when prescribed by a doctor, but he or she may be legally obliged to inform your parents if you are under 16 years of age. The pill costs £25 when bought privately in a pharmacy, so going to see your doctor really is the best option. Side effects are minimal – a small number women can expect to vomit after taking Levonelle and some experience minor breast pain. If you do vomit after taking the pill, inform your doctor. According to the NHS guide to emergency contraception, its effectiveness may have been compromised.
EllaOne is believed to be more effective than Levonelle, because it can be taken up to 120 hours after unprotected sex. It is, however, only proven to work successfully in women over 18. Like Levonelle – EllaOne stops or delays ovulation and makes it much more difficult for an already fertilised egg to become implanted, says the sexual health charity FPA.
It can be bought from pharmacies for around £30 or obtained for free from your doctor. Some women experience back pain, painful periods and mood swings for a short while after taking EllaOne. These side effects are usually very mild and not all that common. Once again, if you happen to vomit after taking the pill – seek advice from your doctor.
Emergency IUDs are a little bit more invasive. They are very effective, though. An emergency IUD is a small plastic and copper device that is inserted into the uterus up to 120 hours after unprotected sex. It takes about 20 minutes to fit and this must be done in a sexual health clinic or doctor’s surgery. For some women it is fairly uncomfortable, but a local anaesthetic can be administered if necessary. This is the only type of emergency contraception that cannot be personally bought or administered. It involves a minor medical procedure and must be carried out properly.
According to the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, emergency IUDs are 99% effective. Side effects are rare and include nothing more major than a bit of light spotting or a little period pain. There is a chance though, that an IUD can move or be pushed out of place. A routine check 3-4 weeks after the IUD has been fitted will be used to monitor for this.
When it comes to emergency contraception, knowledge is key. It is vital that women of all ages are privy to the information that dictates what they can do with their bodies. It’s not the Middle Ages anymore – the UK is a free and enlightened society that has fought for a woman’s right to have access to affordable, reliable emergency contraception. Take advantage of it if you need to, because accidents happen to the best of us.
Author Bio: Jane is a sexual health counselor. She recommends looking online at sites like PC Pharma for discrete approved contraception. Jane can be found online blogging about various health concerns.