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There are two types of emergency contraceptive pills ("morning after pills"), both of which contain the same kinds of hormones found in many daily birth control pills. You can safely use emergency contraception even if you've been told you shouldn't use "the pill" every day.
The first type of emergency contraceptive pill contains a hormone called progestin (learn more about these emergency contraceptive pills). This is the only type of pill available specifically for emergency contraception in the United States (the brand name is Plan B). In other countries, you can find several progestin-only emergency contraceptives and daily birth control pills. Plan B and other progestin-only pills are the most effective emergency contraceptive pills, reducing your risk of getting pregnant by 89% (What does that mean?). You are also less likely to have side effects if you use these pills for emergency contraception.
The second type of emergency contraceptive pill uses both progestin and a hormone called estrogen (learn more about these "combined" emergency contraceptive pills). Many brands of the daily pill can be used for emergency contraception in the United States (find out which ones here). (A specific combined morning after pill is no longer available in the United States because the company that made the one approved here called Preven has stopped selling it). In many other countries, you can find both combined emergency contraceptive pills and daily pills. These pills cut your chances of getting pregnant by 75% (What does that mean?), and you are more likely to experience side effects like nausea and vomiting.
For a more detailed academic review of the medical and social science literature about emergency contraception, click here .
"The most common method of emergency contraception is the "Yuzpe"
method, named after a Canadian gynecologist. This method involves
taking a specific number of birth control pills 12 hours apart. It is
thought to work in two ways. The first is to render the inside lining
of the uterus inhospitable to the egg. The microscopic egg passes out
of the body unnoticed. This method also may block ovulation so that the
ovary does not release an egg at all. Therefore, although the Yuzpe
method may prevent an egg from being released, there are some cases
where an egg is already fertilized and is prevented from implanting in
the uterus. This may have personal or religious implications for the
patient considering this method. As this method is quite safe, any
woman who is not already pregnant can use this method within 72 hours
of unprotected intercourse. Women taking other medications or being
treated for medical problems should always discuss new medications with
...the Yuzpe method of emergency contraception can theoretically prevent
almost 2 million unplanned pregnancies each year in the United States
alone. Experts predict that increased public knowledge of this method
will lead to about 800,000 fewer medical abortions each year. Hopefully
increased knowledge of emergency contraception will prevent many