Everything you need to know about the morning after pill

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about the morning after pill, which leads to it being misused by a lot of people. That’s why I’ve put together a list of everything you need to know about this emergency contraceptive and how it should be used.

What is the morning after pill?

The morning after pill is a once-off emergency contraceptive that prevents pregnancy a short while after having unprotected sex. It’s not an abortion pill and shouldn’t be used if you’ve had unprotected sex more than 72 hours ago or if you’re already pregnant.

When should it be used?

The morning after pill should be used in emergencies, for example, if the condom broke during sex or if you were sexually assaulted. In these cases, and other similar circumstances, you should make sure that you take the pill within 72 hours of having unprotected sex. Taking the morning after pill before having unprotected sex doesn’t work either, since it’s meant to be used afterwards.

It should not be used as an everyday contraceptive as it can be a health risk and can actually increase your chances of having an unplanned pregnancy because it can cause drastic changes to your menstrual cycle. To prevent unwanted pregnancy, it’s best to choose a long-term or short-term contraceptive method that’s advised by your nurse/doctor and ensure that you use condoms during sex.

Common side-effects

There are some common side effects that come with taking the morning after pill. These include nausea, abdominal pain, fatigue, headaches, changes in your period, dizziness, breast tenderness, and vomiting. If you vomit within 2 hours of taking the pill, make sure that you see your doctor/nurse immediately.

If you don’t get your period within 3-4 weeks after taking the morning pill, then it’s best to take a pregnancy test. There’s no immediate way of telling that the pill has worked after taking it, so all you can do is wait for your period to start as normal.

Why you shouldn’t use it long-term

As the name suggests, you should only use it in emergency situations. If you choose to use it as your chosen long-term contraceptive, the morning after pill can make your period very irregular. This will make it harder for you to track your period, making you more likely to fall pregnant. The morning after pill is also an expensive form of contraception and it’s not as effective as normal contraceptives like the pill or injection.

The best way to prevent an unwanted pregnancy and STI infection is to use a contraceptive (the pill, patch, injection, or implant) along with a condom (barrier contraceptive). Take care of your health by doing your research on various contraceptives and making sure you’re having safe sex every time.

If you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message, a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).