When it comes to emergency contraception, it pays to know your options. One method that is available for you to use is the morning after pill. If you’ve heard conflicting information about this medicine that has put you off, or you’re simply not up to speed with what it is, here are some facts that could help you decide if this type of emergency contraception is right for you.

When can I use it?
Whether you’ve forgotten to take your contraceptive pill or a condom has split, this type of emergency contraception is designed to stop or delay ovulation, significantly reducing your chances of becoming pregnant. So if you’ve had unprotected sex and you do not want to fall pregnant, you could use the morning after pill.

There are two types of the morning after pill available. These are Levonelle and ellaOne. While both versions work to prevent unwanted pregnancies, each one has a different timeframe in which it needs to be used in order for it to be effective. Levonelle can be taken up to 72 hours after unprotected sex, while ellaOne can be taken up to 120 hours after. However, it’s also important to note that the sooner either of them is taken, the more effective it will be.

What are the side effects? 
While the morning after pill is not known to cause any long-term health problems, you may experience some side effects. The most common ones include stomach pain, headaches, tiredness, nausea and spotting or heavy bleeding before your next period. Some of the less common symptoms are dizziness, breast tenderness and vomiting. If you’re sick within two hours of taking the morning after pill, you may be required to take another dose. In this instance, you should speak to a medical professional as soon as possible.

Will it prevent me from getting pregnant in the future? 
Although the morning after pill will temporarily prevent you from falling pregnant, there is no evidence to suggest that taking it can make you infertile. While it’s important to be aware that it shouldn’t be used on a long-term basis or as a replacement for your usual method of birth control, such as the combined pill, using it more than once should not cause you to have problems when you do decide to start a family.

If you’re still unsure whether the morning after pill is right for you, you can find out more information from your GP, your local pharmacist or you can refer to trusted online sources, such as the NHS website.

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