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Emergency contraception side effects

Emergency contraception is very special type of modern contraception which can be used during 72 hours after unprotected contacts. Sooner it is used, better can be the result. According to health statistics, emergency contraception can reduce pregnancy risks up to 95%, if used during first 24 hours after unprotected contacts and it can be effective up to 89%, if used after 24 hours but during first 72 hours after unprotected sex. Special attention should be paid to emergency contraception side effects.

Each type of emergency contraception should be used according to adequate instructions. In most cases it is a one dose tablet (levonorgestrel 1.5 milligrams). Emergency contraception works in several ways depending on which day of menstrual cycle you use it:

  • It can prevent or delay ovulation (if taken during first 10-12 days of menstrual cycle);
  • It can prevent fertilization of mature egg (if taken during or after ovulation);
  • It can prevent implantation of fertilized egg in the uterus by altering uterine internal lining;
  • It can prevent sperm movement through cervix by thickening the mucus in cervix.

It is important to know that emergency contraception pill contains high dose of hormone and it should not be used often. It is not ordinary method of contraception which can be used regularly. It is not recommended for routine use. It also should be highlighted that emergency contraception does not protect from sexually transmitted infections.

Emergency contraception is recommended for following cases:

  • After unprotected sexual contacts,
  • In cases of broken condom or slipped diaphragm,
  • In cases of missed 2 and more birth control pills,
  • If partner didn’t pull out in time,
  • After forced violent sexual contacts.

Emergency contraception side effects can be pretty disturbing (especially in cases of increased sensibility to used hormone).

Short-term emergency contraception side effects

Due to high dose of hormone in emergency contraception pill, it is more likely to cause noticeable side effects. In some cases women don’t mention any emergency contraception side effects but often the following side effects could be noted:Emergency contraception side effects

  • Nausea or vomiting,
  • Pelvic pain,
  • General fatigue,
  • Dizziness,
  • Breast tenderness,
  • Unexpected headache,
  • Abnormal vaginal discharge or spotting (often reddish or brown),
  • Unexpected irregular bleeding up to next menstrual period (heavy or medium, long or short),
  • Changes in next menstrual period (heavier or lighter than usual).

First six possible emergency contraception side effects usually disappear during few days without any additional treatment. But vaginal discharge or spotting and uterine bleeding could last up to next menstrual period. It should not be a subject of major concern because high dose of hormone can always disturb normal female hormones cyclic fluctuations and could cause mentioned side effects.

Concerning next menstrual period, it can be late or heavy or unusual (longer or shorter).

In very rare cases, women could experience allergic reactions to emergency contraception pill.

Emergency contraception side effects – when to visit your doctor

If you experience allergic reactions such as skin rash, skin pimples, swelling (mainly face swelling) or difficult breathing;

If you miss your next menstrual period or had very abnormal menstruation;

If your partner has any of sexually transmitted infections (gonorrhea, Chlamydis, trichomoniasis, HIV);

If you suffer from unexpected vomiting and/or diarrhea during few hours after taking the pill.

Emergency contraception side effects – how avoid

If you experience headache or pelvic pain after taking pill, you can use paracetamol, aspirin or any pain relief drugs to relieve mentioned side effects.

Using emergency contraception pill with food can reduce risks for vomiting and diarrhea.

Drinking milk and eating healthy oily food can reduce risk of nausea.

Physical exercises can reduce chances for fatigue and dizziness.


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