Here, we set the record straight to help women make informed choices based on the facts.
Myth: There is only one emergency contraception method available.
The Facts: There are two types of emergency contraception that can be used after unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy. These are, the morning after pill - also known as the 'emergency contraceptive pill' and the emergency IUD - also known as 'the emergency coil'. ellaOne® is the most effective morning after pill and is available directly from your pharmacist, without a prescription.
Myth: Repeat use of the morning after pill can lead to infertility.
The Facts: There is no evidence to suggest that using the morning after pill more than once will make you infertile. However, the morning after pill is a backup method for preventing pregnancy and should only be used occasionally. If you want to have sex after using emergency contraception, you should use a barrier method of contraception until your next period. This is because your fertility can come back very quickly.
Myth: Emergency contraception prevents pregnancy for a long time.
The Facts: Emergency contraception has no effect on future fertility. It will not protect you from pregnancy if you have unprotected sex again in the days following intake. If you want to have sex after using emergency contraception, use a barrier method of contraception until your next period. This is because your fertility can come back very quickly.
Myth: It's okay to use emergency contraception instead of regular contraception.
The Facts: Emergency contraception is not regular contraception. After unprotected sex it is wise to use emergency contraception to prevent pregnancy if you are not ready to have a baby, but it should be viewed as a 'back up' option. Like all contraception, emergency contraception is not 100% effective (you may have just ovulated when you took the emergency contraception pill). In addition, emergency contraception does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). If you're not using a regular method of contraception, you might consider doing so in order to lower the risk of unintended pregnancy.
Myth: Emergency contraception can be taken any time after having unprotected sex and still be effective.
The Facts: It is important to remember that the sooner you use emergency contraception after sex, the more effective it will be. ellaOne is the most effective morning after pill available to women when taken in the first 24 hours after unprotected sexual intercourse. You can take ellaOne® no later than 120 hours (5 days) after you have had unprotected sex. However, taking emergency contraceptive pills as soon as possible after unprotected sex gives the best chance of success. The emergency IUD can be inserted up to five days after unprotected sex or up to five days after the earliest time you could have ovulated.
Myth: The morning after pill works by causing a mini abortion.
The Facts: The morning after pill does not cause an abortion. The morning after pill works by delaying or inhibiting egg release. This means that the sperm waiting in the fallopian tubes will be unable to meet an egg and fertilise it. (This is similar to regular contraceptive pills, which also work by preventing egg release.) This all happens before pregnancy can begin, which is 6-12 days after unprotected sex. If you are already pregnant emergency contraception will not interrupt your pregnancy.
Myth: Emergency contraception is hard to get.
The Facts: Emergency contraception is available from a variety of sources. A pharmacist or healthcare professional will be able to advise which option is most suitable for you. Oral emergency contraception is available directly from your pharmacist, without a prescription. You can also get emergency contraception from your GP, family planning clinic, walk-in centre or out of hours service. The emergency IUD may have restricted availability and needs to be inserted by a specifically trained healthcare professional.