Understanding specialized pharmaceutical terms and language used by medical professionals is difficult. It can be extra tricky when trying to distinguish the difference between all the types of reproductive pills available today. Do you need a birth control pill, emergency contraception medication, medical abortion, and what exactly is “the abortion pill?” At AWHC, our staff is here to help you understand what reproductive healthcare options are available, so you can make the best decision for you.
What is emergency contraception?
Emergency contraception (the morning-after pill), is a medication taken after unprotected intercourse to prevent a pregnancy from occurring. It does not terminate an existing pregnancy. Emergency contraception is birth control, not an abortion method.
In the United States, there are two types of emergency contraception medications available, those that contain levonorgestrel (Plan B and its generics), and those that contain ulipristal acetate (Ella).
Plan B and generic drugs that contain a high dose of levonorgestrel (like My Way, Next Choice, and One Dose), contain the same medication as the oral contraceptives taken daily for birth control. The high dosage of levonorgestrel creates hormonal changes that can prevent a pregnancy from occurring.
In the United States, levonorgestrel-based emergency contraception can be purchased without a prescription at a pharmacy for about $50. Both the brand name (Plan B), and the generic versions use the same medication and work in the same way.
Our office offers patients “My Way” for $20.
Ella (ulipristal acetate), suppresses the body from releasing progesterone, therefore delaying ovulation for 5 days. Since sperm can survive and be viable for up to 5 days, pregnancy can be prevented by delaying ovulation during that time. Ella can also thin the lining of the uterus, making it harder for a fertilized egg to become implanted and develop.
Ella is only available by prescription. You can ask your healthcare provider to prescribe you Ella for emergency use, or there are great organizations that offer Ella online via telemedicine. We recommend the groups Nurx and PRJKT RUBY ™. Since medications ordered from online resources must be shipped to you, it important you reach out to them ASAP!
Our staff is working to negotiate a low price so we can provide Ella at a discount. We’ll keep you updated and will announce when Ella can be purchased locally and affordably at our office.
How does emergency contraception work?
The most important factor in getting pregnant is timing.
Pregnancy doesn’t happen the second you have sex, it takes time for the sperm to reach an egg that was released from an ovary. It also takes time for a fertilized egg to implant in the uterus, begins to develop, and result in a pregnancy. Emergency contraception medications work by interfering with this process by delaying ovulation or by interfering with fertilization.
The effectiveness of emergency contraception is determined by two factors—what stage your body is at in its ovulation cycle, and how quickly after unprotected sex you take it. The medication has been proven effective up to 120 hours after sex, but since the success rate increases the closer it is taken to unprotected intercourse, we encourage you to call our office as soon as you think you need it.
So Emergency Contraception is Not an Abortion?
Nope. The morning-after pill is emergency birth control, taken to prevent a pregnancy. It is not an abortion method.
Sometimes people confuse emergency contraception with medical abortion (aka the abortion pill, Mife, RU-486). A medical abortion is an alternative to the surgical abortion procedure, that uses two medications (misoprostol and mifeprex), to end a verified pregnancy.
If you are pregnant and want an abortion, contact our office to learn about what options are available to you.
Which Pill Do I Need? Emergency Contraception or Medical Abortion?
If you have had unprotected sex (your partner didn’t pull out, the condom broke, or you were forced to have intercourse), then emergency contraception may be an effective way to prevent a pregnancy.
We found a great quiz that can help you decide which morning-after-pill is right for you. Or call our office and make an appointment to discuss your birth control and emergency contraception options.
If you think you might already be pregnant (you forgot to take your birth control pill, or you had unprotected sex a few weeks ago and your period is late), take a pregnancy test. We offer free pregnancy testing in our office, or you can purchase a test kit at a pharmacy. If the result is positive, but you don’t want to be pregnant, click here and schedule an appointment with our office for an abortion consultation.
Hopefully, this post has helped you decide what is right for you. Please don’t hesitate to walk in and grab My Way for $20 or check out our page with further information on the morning after pill a.ka. emergency contraception.
- Emergency Contraception--a medication that will prevent a pregnancy. It can be taken after unprotected sex or if your birth control method has failed.
- Morning After Pill–another name commonly used for emergency contraception.
- Plan B (levonorgestrel) and Ella (Ulipristal Acetate) –are the brand names of two types of emergency contraception.
- Abortion Pill (Mifepristone)— is a medication that will end an existing pregnancy.