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The Emergency Contraceptive

The emergency contraceptive pill (ECP) is also known as the morning-after pill or Plan B (popularly referred to as P2 in Kenya) and can be found under different brand names. It is used in an ‘emergency’ situation and contains levonorgestrel, a form of progestogen, to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sexual intercourse within 1-3 days or 120 hours in the following situations:
● Not using a condom or other birth control method when you had vaginal sex
● Forgetting to take your birth control pills, change your patch or ring, or get your shot on time) and had vaginal sex
● The condom broke or slipped off after ejaculation
● Your partner didn’t pull out in time
● Being forced to have unprotected vaginal sex

This particular contraceptive works to alter your menstrual cycle by delaying the release of an egg or making it difficult for the egg and sperm to meet by changing the nature of the cervical mucus. The pills were designed for occasional use over indefinite periods because they are less effective than other hormonal and long-acting methods. They are not recommended as a regular method of contraception.
It is important to note however that there are cases when the emergency contraceptive pill will not work:

1. If pregnancy has already occurred
2. If your body has already started ovulating
3. If you take expired or fake P2

Repeat Use of the Emergency Contraceptive and Side Effects

The emergency contraceptive is a hormonal pill with certain side effects that can disrupt the menstrual cycle. “Increased availability of over-the-counter or behind-the-counter emergency contraceptive pills has raised concerns about repeat use and “misuse” of the product. News outlets have described an “epidemic” of repeat use worldwide in which young women were reportedly “eating emergency contraceptives like chocolate” in Kenya.” (Chin-Quee et al., 2016)

The most common side effects after taking the pill include; nausea, vomiting, headache, tiredness, fatigue and dizziness. Some women who take emergency contraception may have light vaginal bleeding before their actual period for a few days. However, bleeding that lasts longer than three days or that becomes heavier may be a sign of a problem. How often one should use P2 is not very clear since some scientists say it should only be taken twice a year and others say once a month.

Overconsumption of these pills may lead to the following:
● It may worsen some health conditions
● Can cause hormonal imbalance, acne, and development of ovarian cysts
● Can cause delayed or prolonged periods
● May cause an irregular cycle
● Can increase the risk of sexually transmitted diseases
● May affect your fertility
● May cause more severe PMS symptoms
● May lead to stress and anxiety

 

 

The emergency contraceptive pill is not recommended for those with a history of severe heart diseases, stroke or other thrombotic conditions (clotting diseases), severe liver diseases, migraine headache, and angina pectoralis. It may also lose effectiveness when taking anticonvulsants, some ARTS, and antifungals or are medically obese. It is vital to consult someone with knowledge of family planning before you buy the drug over the counter. If you are concerned about getting pregnant you might want to think about using a different method of contraception.

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