Ever found yourself in a situation where your partner suddenly realised his condom was “leaking” after a steamy bedroom session? or worse still you miscalculated your fertile period and only realised after the deed was done and now you’re having nightmares because you’re not ready for baby number 2? Well I have good news for you, it’s not the end of the world. There are methods that can be used to prevent pregnancy when such mistakes happen, they are called emergency contraceptives.
Emergency contraceptives are methods used to prevent unwanted pregnancy after unprotected intercourse when other methods of contraception were either not used, misused or failed to work.
Examples of situations where emergency contraception may be necessary include:
– When a condom breaks or slips during intercourse.
– Having unprotected intercourse after missed dose(s) of routine oral contraceptives pills
– Failed withdrawal method of contraception
And generally any situations where there is a possibility of an unwanted pregnancy resulting from unprotected intercourse.
The following are useful methods of emergency contraception:
1. Emergency contraceptive pills (Morning-after pills): This is the most common method of emergency contraception used by women in our environment today, it involves taking pills (containing certain doses of synthetic hormones) to prevent pregnancy.
The pills work by:
-preventing ovulation (release of the egg from the ovaries) or
– preventing fertilization (union of the sperm and egg)
Depending on the kind of pills purchased, pills can still be effective even when taken up to 3-5days (72-120hours) following unprotected intercourse, however, they are more effective when taken as soon as possible. For example, taking the pills within 3 hours after unprotected intercourse guarantees higher chances of preventing pregnancy than taking it 48 hours later.
Contrary to popular belief, the use of emergency contraceptive pills DO NOT lead to infertility. However, the pills are not to be used as an everyday method of contraception, they are meant for emergency use only. If you desire continuous contraception, then you should see a doctor to prescribe oral contraceptive pills or recommend other methods of contraception for you to use.
2. Copper Intra-Uterine Contraceptive Device (IUCD): This method involves inserting a small contraceptive device made from plastic and copper into the womb to prevent pregnancy. The device should only be inserted by a health care professional.
It is effective in preventing pregnancy when inserted within 5 days of unprotected intercourse. It prevents fertilization (union of the sperm and egg) by causing chemical changes in the sperm and egg before they meet.
The copper IUCD is also used as a longterm contraceptive method, (it can prevent pregnancy for up to 10 years) and can be removed to restore fertility at anytime pregnancy is desired. It is a more suitable method of emergency contraception for women that desire longterm contraception.
Now that you know, the next time the unexpected happens, keep calm and use emergency contraception.