What are Emergency Contraceptives?

Emergency contraception is a post-sex method of birth control. That means if you are not already on contraceptives or didn’t use condoms or even if you did and it did not work properly, emergency contraception can help prevent unplanned pregnancy if used immediately after unprotected sex.

Emergency contraceptive pills are sometimes called the morning-after pill, but this is a misnomer because you do not have to wait till the morning after sex to use. 

Emergency contraceptive pills are a safe and effective method of preventing unplanned pregnancy if you had unprotected sex. Also, you could use contraceptive pills in situations where the contraceptives you already were using failed or if you had just been sexually assaulted.

Emergency contraceptive pills are not to be confused with abortion pills as they do not terminate a pregnancy, they only help prevent pregnancy before it happens.

Also, note that emergency contraceptive pills do not protect against HIV or other sexually transmittable infections. Use a condom if you are at risk of contracting an STI.


When should I consider Emergency Contraception?

  1. If you had unprotected sex and you want to prevent an unplanned pregnancy.
  2. If you had desired to use contraceptives but failed to follow through
  3. If there was a contraceptive failure. For example, a condom broke, if there was a diaphragm or cervical cap breakage, or a barrier contraceptive slippage
  4. If birth control pills, patches, rings, or injections were started late or dislodged.
  5. If there was a failed withdrawal
  6. If there was an expulsion of IUD or implant
  7. If you were sexually assaulted. That is if you were forced to have sex when you did not want to.


Side effects of Emergency Contraception

As earlier stated, emergency contraception pills are safe and an effective way of preventing unplanned pregnancy. However, you might react to drugs, but the chances are slim, and the side effects are rarely serious. Here are some side effects you might experience from using emergency contraception:

  • You might experience nausea and might even vomit right after taking the contraceptive pill. You can always speak to your health care provider for drugs that could alleviate the feeling of nausea.
  • Headache
  • Heavy or irregular bleeding
  • Dizziness
  • Breast pain
  • Stomach pain
  • Fatigue

These side effects are usually mild and do not last long. Your next menstrual period might come light or early, and you might bleeding might be heavy or light.


How does one get Emergency Contraception?

Just walk into any pharmaceutical store in Nigeria and ask for Postinor. Postinor is the brand name for the emergency contraceptive pill available across the country, and it is made mainly with levonorgestrel. It can be sold to anyone from 18 and older without a prescription and is affordable.


How quickly should one take Emergency Contraception?

As earlier stated, it is best to take it immediately after unprotected sex, as soon as possible. Also, do remember that mixing salt and water and taking it as emergency contraception as commonly practised in Nigeria has not been proven by any study to be effective.

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