Contraception mishaps can be scary. If you forget your birth-control pills, if a condom breaks, or if your customary form of contraception fails in some way, no one would blame you for feeling extremely stressed-out and worried.
Take comfort in knowing you are not alone. Countless women go through “contraception malfunctions” every year. Even if you have not had to deal with such a challenge, it is important to stay informed and know what’s available just in case.
Women today have the opportunity to select from several emergency contraceptives that contain a safe, effective dose of hormones to prevent an unwanted pregnancy before it is too late. Some of the options to help you in case of contraceptive failure include:
Plan B, and its generic form (levonorgestrel), are a popular over-the-counter option. The Original Plan B comes in two doses and the new Plan B One-Step offers pregnancy prevention in one pill. Both deliver an effective and safe amount of levonorgestrel, which works to prevent pregnancy by halting the release of an egg from a woman’s ovary or by preventing the sperm from fertilizing the egg.
Ulipristal acetate, marketed as ella, is a new prescription-only contraceptive that is to be used as soon as possible within five days (120 hours) after contraception failure. This medication is thought to inhibit or delay ovulation and is more effective then progestin-only contraception at preventing pregnancy on the fourth or fifth day after intercourse.
Your traditional form of birth-control pills may be able to help prevent unwanted pregnancy when a contraception mishap occurs. To do so, you should take a different dose of your hormonal birth-control pills than you normally do. Talk to your doctor to ascertain the correct dosage for your particular birth-control formula. The correct dose varies from brand to brand, and you should never take more than the prescribed dose of any medication without first speaking to your doctor.
Additionally, in some cases, it is even possible to prevent pregnancy by having an IUD (intrauterine device) placed in your uterus by your doctor within five days of contraception failure. However, this is an invasive option that might not be feasible for everyone.
For many women, emergency contraception is the best and only method for preventing unwanted pregnancy after a contraception mishap. It is a good idea to review these options in advance and consider the method you might use so that you are better prepared if the time comes.