Weird & Wonderful Common myths about the emergency contraceptive pill, busted!
When it comes to post-sex pregnancy prevention, don't believe the rumors.
As a limited access to contraceptive knowledge, there are a lots of myths and misunderstanding on Emergency contraceptive pill which not only leads to confusion but could result in an unplanned pregnancy. If the condom broke, you forgot a pill, or things went further than you planned, having a Plan B—can make a big difference. So if you ever had, have, or might have sex, it’s important to separate the fact from the fiction where ECPs are concerned—starting with the realities behind these common myths.
Myth: ECPs cause abortion.
Little-known fact: After sex, sperm hang around in the fallopian tubes for days waiting for an egg to appear. If an egg doesn’t show up, the sperm eventually give up. That’s why ECPs only work for up to 5 days after sex, and why it’s important to take them as soon as you can.
Some people confuse ECPs with medication abortion pills, but they are not the same thing. (At all.) Levonorgestrel, the progestin hormone in most ECPs, has no effect on an established pregnancy. All ECPs prevent pregnancy by delaying ovulation, so the egg and sperm never meet up. Studies show that ECPs are not effective if a woman has already ovulated.
Myth: I partied last night, so taking ECPs now is dangerous.
Alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs don’t change the effectiveness of ECPs. Partying may affect how likely you are to hook up, but there’s no reason for it to affect your decision to take EC the next day. In general, the benefits of taking ECPs far outweigh the risks—especially since not taking it can mean dealing with the risks that come with pregnancy. It makes sense if you think about it like this:
- EC is a one-time dose of a higher level of a hormone your body makes naturally.
- Pregnancy is a nine-month dose of those same hormones at even higher levels.
Myth: If I take ECPs today, I’m covered if we have unprotected sex again tomorrow.
ECPs are only good to protect against one act of unprotected sex. They work by blocking ovulation, but only for a few days, so if you take them and have unprotected sex again afterwards, you’re significantly increasing your risk of a pregnancy. If you have unprotected sex again within a few days of taking the pills, there will be more sperm waiting in the fallopian tubes when the egg is eventually released.
Myth: ECPs will mess up your fertility if you take them too many times.
There is no evidence that taking ECPs multiple times affects future fertility. Probably the biggest risk of taking ECPs multiple times is an eventual unintended pregnancy. ECPs prevent about 7 out of 8 pregnancies that would otherwise occur, meaning they’re less effective than other types of birth control like the daily pill and condom. ECPs are way less effective than the IUD or implant. Also, depending on your health insurance, it may be expensive to take them repeatedly.
If you find you’re taking ECPs regularly, it’s probably more affordable—not to mention more effective—to talk to your health care provider about which can be used regularly, non-emergency method of birth control could be right for you. But if you ever have an emergency situation, don’t believe the rumors—ECPs are a safe and effective second chance to prevent an accidental pregnancy.