Emergency contraception: You had unsafe sex. Now what?
Let’s cut to the chase: orgasms are wonderful and the process of achieving them is even more enticing. On some occasions, we are meticulous about how we get our orgasms; being safe and using a hormonal contraceptive in addition to a barrier method. And on some occasions, mistakes happen. We either get caught up in the heat of the moment, or our trusted methods do not work as expected. It happens, and this space is definitely one where no judgement will be cast when it comes to situations such as this.
Often when one of these things happens, we panic. Maybe it was a one night stand with the cute guy we found at the bar, or maybe it was with our long-term partner who equally agrees having a child is not what is best for you and him. Regardless of the circumstances in which unsafe sex happens, the fear of getting pregnant with a child you are not ready for is daunting. But after having unsafe sex, there are ways you can stop a pregnancy from occurring.
This post will highlight the two main ways you can inhibit implantation and possibly a pregnancy if you had unsafe sex. It is important to note that these options do not protect you from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that can result from unsafe sex, and it is important that if you do find yourself in this position, getting screened for STIs should be something to consider, especially if you do not know the sexual history of your sexual partner.
Emergency contraceptive pill
The first option you can explore to avoid pregnancy after unsafe sex is to get an emergency contraceptive pill. In many countries in Southeast Asia, such as Cambodia, one may require a prescription to get the pill, so keep that in mind when seeking this option. The emergency contraceptive pill is viable up to five days after you have had unsafe sex. This contraceptive option either comes in a two pill pack where you take the second pill 72 hours after the first pill. Other versions of the emergency contraceptive pill come in the form of one pill that can be taken at your earliest convenience within the five-day timeframe.
The emergency contraceptive pill works by either inhibiting ovulation by stopping the release of an egg or preventing the implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus. However, this is all dependent on where you are in your menstrual cycle. After taking the pill, you could immediately have your periods but this is also dependent on which phase of your menstrual cycle you are in.
It is important to note that the emergency contraceptive pill often comes with weight limits that are not explicitly detailed on the packet. Should you worry about your weight having an impact on the efficacy of the pill, consult with your doctor to get more information about your options.
As a contraceptive option that has minimal side effects, emergency contraceptive pill can be used numerous times in one’s lifetime, but it is advised to use a long term contraceptive method if you not looking to conceive anytime soon.
Your second option should you find yourself in this predicament is to get an IUD. This method is actually more effective than the emergency contraceptive pill, but because it requires an appointment for insertion, it can be less accessible.
The IUD either comes in a hormonal form whereby a constant flow of hormones are released into your bloodstream, or as a non-hormonal option that relies on small doses of copper being released, which in turn inhibits implantation from taking place.
If the IUD is inserted within five days of having unsafe sex, it is able to stop the flow of sperm and restricts its ability to find an egg to implant. This in turn means that you will not get pregnant. The great thing about this option is that it kills two birds with one stone. Not only does it serve as a means of emergency contraception, but it also gives you long term protection from any future mishaps that could occur, and rid you of the responsibility to always remember to use a contraceptive to stop unplanned pregnancies.
Just a reminder though, this contraceptive option also does not protect against STIs and if you have multiple sexual partners or are unsure of the sexual history of your sexual partner, it is advised to use another contraceptive option, such as an external or internal condom.
I hope this has helped in informing you about what you can do if you have unsafe sex and don’t want to get pregnant.
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About the author: Marie-Simone Kadurira is a Reproductive Health consultant in Southern Africa. She is also the founder of Vasikana Vedu. It is a not for profit organisation which combats period poverty in the region.