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About the Morning After Pill

Pregnancy  Articles

I have taken the morning after pill once, due to a condom that came off on the very day that I ovulated and was most fertile.

The morning after pill is a very effective form of birth control (some kind of 99% figure), and can work up to 72 hours after unprotected sexual intercourse. It is for emergencies only, as it involves quite high doses of hormones that would not be safe to take all the time. As a single-use drug however, it is very safe (often described as safer than aspirin). All of this I knew and had confirmed for me by a very public health doctor. There are no stats on long-term side effects of the morning after pill (written MAP on prescriptions), but they are not expected to be important because of the brevity of exposure to the drugs and the similarity to the birth control pill. Also, in the event of failure, the effects of the hormones on the developing embryo are expected to be minimal because there have been no observed impacts of taking birth control pills by accident in the early stages of pregnancy.

The usual form of the morning after pill seems to be two small pills, and then two more small pills exactly 12 hours later. These pills are all identical, contain a fake estrogen (estradiol for people like me who care) and progesterone, and are essentially high-dose birth control pills. In fact, mine came in pairs that looked like they had been snipped from a birth control pill pack (they had days of the week written next to them). The hormones prevent ovulation if it has not already occurred, and alter the lining of the uterus to prevent implantation of any fertilized eggs that are floating around. I think the hormones work on the same principle as other oral contraceptives, and "trick" the body into acting pregnant. I have heard tell of a new morning after pill that is in fact a single pill, but I don't know if it is available anywhere yet. (Yes, it's available now!)

The morning after pill commonly makes people nauseous and is usually prescribed with Gravol (anti-puking drug). I did not get sick, but I got a little light-headed and had funny tummy cramps and minor diarrhea for about a week. My beloved boy has done this twice, and the previous time his girl got quite sick with it. It worked for both of us, and for the couple other people I know who've taken it.

The morning after pills cost us 10 dollars, and would have been deductible if I had been willing to send the receipt in and have it show up in my grandparents' mail (I was on their medical). I forget who paid; we share these things. We got the pills at a walk-in clinic, but you can also get them in the emergency rooms of hospitals and from your family doctor. They used to require a prescription in Canada because they are an emergency-only drug and the doctors want to explain them to you. Currently, I think they are being deregulated or something so you can get them from a pharmacist with no prescription, which scares me a bit because pharmacists are not doctors and that is a weird power to give them, but it does make access easier. It seems like it would be more important to make them over-the-counter in a country that didn't cover clinic visits with universal healthcare (i.e., the U.S.), so that people on someone else's medical wouldn't have to either claim a doctor's visit where the medical account holder could see it or pay the big fee.

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