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How does the emergency contraception pill work?
The emergency contraceptive pill (also known as “plan B” or the “morning after pill”) contains either the hormone levonorgestrel or ulipristal acetate. Both of these hormones can be effective at preventing pregnancy after unprotected sex by either delaying or preventing ovulation and fertilization.
After intercourse, sperm can live inside your body for as long as five days depending on factors including at what point of the menstrual cycle you are in. If ovulation occurs during this time, the sperm may meet to fertilize the egg; if the fertilized egg is implanted in the uterus, you will become pregnant. Emergency contraception will temporarily stop the release of an egg, decreasing the likelihood of pregnancy. Although less likely, emergency contraception can also prevent the fertilization of the egg if ovulation has already occurred.
Keep in mind that emergency contraception will be most effective at preventing pregnancy if you have not ovulated yet. Because you may not know the exact date of ovulation, the earlier you take emergency contraception, the more likely it is to be effective. There are 2 brands of emergency contraception available in Singapore. The first, which contains levonorgestrel, can be taken up to 72 hours after unprotected sex, while the second, which contains ulipristal acetate, can be taken up to 5 days after unprotected sex.
When to take emergency contraception
You should consider taking emergency contraception if you have any reason to suspect your birth control may have failed, or if you did not use any birth control at all. For instance:
- You had unprotected sex (i.e. did not use any form of birth control)
- You were using a condom as your main method of birth control and it broke or slipped off during sex
- You were late to or failed to take your hormonal contraception (i.e. did not use patch or ring correctly, were late to get your implant or injection, or missed a pill)
You should refer to the leaflet of your specific type and brand of hormonal contraceptive if you are unsure of whether or not your birth control may have failed or speak to a member of our medical team by signing up for a birth control teleconsultation here.
You’re not alone
Emergency contraception and fertility
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), taking emergency contraception does not affect future fertility, meaning that it will not prevent you from getting pregnant in the future. Rest assured that emergency contraception has no long-term side effects, and will not affect your ovulation in the future. There are no links between taking emergency contraception and infertility, and this does not change even if you use emergency contraception more than once.
You should feel free to take emergency contraception whenever you or your medical provider thinks it is necessary. However, it is not recommended that you use emergency contraception as your main method of birth control, as it is not as effective as other forms of hormonal birth control. It is also not recommended that you use emergency contraception more than once in a menstrual cycle (more than once a month) as it may increase the chances of side effects like changes in your period and spotting (light bleeding in between periods). If you find yourself in need of emergency contraception often, speak to a medical provider to find out what other methods may be available for you. You can consult about this with one of our doctors here.
What are possible side effects of taking emergency contraception?
Some, but not all, people who take emergency contraception may experience side effects. These are usually mild,will not last long and should go away on their own. They may include:
- Tiredness and fatigue
- Abdominal pain
- Breast pain
- Nausea and vomiting – make sure to reach out to a healthcare professional if you vomit within two hours of taking your dose, as an additional dose may be required.
- Changes to your menstrual cycle –your next period may come earlier or later than usual.
Your next period may also be more painful than usual.
- Spotting – light pink or brown bleeding in between periods
Accessing emergency contraception
Accessing emergency contraception can be a little daunting, but we’re here to help! At Ease, we offer the two types of emergency contraception pills available in Singapore and deliver them to your doorstep discreetly. How does it work? Fill up a short health questionnaire, have a 5 minutes video consultation with one of our doctors and get your package delivered in discreet packaging to you within 4hrs.