What Really Happens When You Take Emergency Contraception

Emergency contraception, aka the Morning After Pill, is a medicine that contains the hormone levonorgestrel which is used to prevent pregnancy. It is designed to be taken within 72 hours (3 days) of unprotected sex or sex with contraceptive failure (broken condom, missed birth control pills). Many people don’t take this pill seriously as I’ve seen first-hand posts online in a joking manner where guys will say they’ll slip a Plan B into a girl’s breakfast without her knowledge, or girls taking multiple Plan B’s in one month (which is a huge no-no). I knew emergency contraception was serious, as it’s basically birth control on steroids and I had extreme doubts of taking it since I recently stopped birth control due to bad side effects. But accidents happen and I felt compelled to inform others about what you could possibly experience. My own personal experience is at the end of this post.

For the rest of this post, I will be talking about emergency contraception in terms of the pill and not the IUD.

what does emergency contraception do?

It prevents pregnancy from occurring but doesn’t disrupt a pregnancy already in progress.

how does it work?

It can work in three different ways:

1) Prevent ovulation from occurring

2) Delay ovulation to prevent sperm fertilizing the egg

3) Make fertilization and implantation harder by changing the cervical mucus to make it thicker so sperm can’t reach the egg and by making the uterine lining uninhabitable to the egg (when the fertilized egg implants into the uterus to officially begin pregnancy).

How to take it?

The package comes with one pill that you must take within 72 hours or 3 days of sex. The faster you take it the more effective it will be. It’s advised to take it with food to prevent vomiting as it can cause nausea.

What are the side effects?

  • Nausea

  • Abdominal pain (cramps)

  • Breast tenderness

  • Changes in your menstrual cycle (spotting, late or early period)

  • Dizziness

  • Fatigue

  • Headache

Side effects usually don’t last longer than a week.

How effective is it?

If taken with 24 hours, it’s 95% effective. When taken within 72 hours, it’s 89% effective at preventing pregnancy.

Where can you buy it?

Any place where there’s a pharmacy (drug stores like CVS, grocery stores like Stop n Shop, Planned Parenthood, big box stores like Walmart and Target)

You can click the button above for more information and for $10 off. Plan B costs $50!

Now here’s my personal experience:

I ended up taking a generic brand of Plan B called Aftera which we got at CVS. My cycle’s generally run shorter at around 25 days, so when I checked my period app I realized I was close to my fertile window. Shorter cycles mean ovulation occurs closer to when your period ends and I happened to be on cycle day 7 or 8, with my period ending on cycle day 5. Pro tip- Sperm can survive for up to 5 days inside you! I ended up only taking the pill with water as it was super early in the morning and went to bed with slight nausea (I wasn’t sure if it was from the pill or because I was scared).

Problems didn’t start happening until the following week. I started experiencing extremely painful cramps and my breasts were sore to the point that walking, getting out of bed or even barely touching them was excruciating. Add to that sore nipples and there’s the icing on the cake. At this point, I started to get worried because my period was supposed to be coming soon and these weren’t usual PMS symptoms. The day of my period comes and there’s no sign of it, but I tried to stay calm because a late period is a normal side effect of the pill. Fast forward a week and a half, and at this point, I had taken a couple of pregnancy tests which came out negative. Coming from someone who’s periods come like clockwork and am never late I was in full blown panic! I ended up calling my gynecologist who said it was probably the hormones throwing my body out of wack and to call back in two more weeks if I still hadn’t started my period.

At 3 weeks late I started experiencing lightheadedness which made just surviving impossible. Driving was dangerous, walking around wasn’t fun and I was basically bed bound. Add to that an increased appetite, headaches, frequent urination and nausea and I was completely miserable. It was at this point I was given a blood test to officially rule out pregnancy. Apparently, some women test negative on urine tests and are only positive with blood tests. The results came back in a few days and they said I wasn’t pregnant. That was the only thing that made me relax, not my doctor’s advice or even home pregnancy tests.

As I’m writing this I am currently 5 weeks late and have missed 2 periods but not pregnant. I’m no longer having any negative side effects (they stopped around 4 weeks late). I recommend not going on google and reading forums where other girls ask if they’re pregnant as it only causes more unnecessary stress. Also, try not to research pregnancy symptoms as this pill can cause any and just about every pregnancy symptom! I just wanted to let others know how serious this pill can be and to cherish your periods ( as funny as that sounds)! Regular periods mean you’re healthy and when that suddenly stops it can be extremely scary. I personally will never take this pill ever again but it’s very effective for emergency situations. DO NOT repeatedly take this pill if you’re regularly being irresponsible and not having safe sex, as it’s not good for your body. Last but not least, Plan B generics work just as well as the original.

If anyone else has had a morning-after pill horror story I’d love to hear about it. Feel free to leave a comment below!