Emergency Contraceptives: Setting The Record Straight

Photograph: Gilbert Rodriguez

Photograph: Gilbert Rodriguez

BY JOELLEN NOTTE | theRedheadBedhead.com

In the wonderful world of sex, things don’t always go as planned— Condoms break, pills are forgotten, folks get drunk and reckless. When these things happen, Emergency Contraception (EC) can mean the difference between a brief panic and an unplanned pregnancy. However, before you can protect yourself with EC, it’s important to know your options and how they work. This is trickier than it should be though, as rumors, myths and misapprehensions regarding EC are rampant.

So let’s clear up some of the confusion, shall we?

What’s in a Name?

Emergency Contraception frequently goes under another name that confuses the issue greatly – The Morning After Pill. That name on its own confuses people on three separate issues:

  • “The” implies that there is only one kind of EC. Nope!
  • “Morning after” makes it sound like you must take it immediately or you are screwed. Not so!
  • “Pill” leads us to believe that EC only comes in pill form Incorrect! (That’s right folks, pills are not your only choice.)

There go three big fallacies before we even get past the introductions!

So, what are your options? How do they work? Where can you get them?

Well, they range from over-the-counter one-dose pills to IUDs (for real, IUDs can be used as EC!). To get the skinny on what’s out there, how you can get it and how much it might cost you, check out the Emergency Contraception page from our friends at Bedsider. It includes an emergency contraception locator and guidelines on following the Yuzpe Regimen – a way to use your regular BC pills as EC.

Mistaken Identity

Also, EC suffers from a huge case of mistaken identity! There are a lot of folks out there who think that Emergency Contraception and medication abortion are the same thing or that EC is an “Abortion Pill”. This is just plain wrong.

Emergency contraception prevents pregnancy, it does not end it.

Here’s how I like to think about it: Imagine you are a car and sex is driving (go with me here). In this world, EC would play the role of your brakes – there to prevent an accident. Medication abortion fits in the same category as things like air bags- there in case said  accident occurs. For more information on medication abortion and what it actually is, head over to Planned Parenthood’s Abortion Pill page.

The New Ella and The Great IUD

So, those are the big misconceptions but they are far from the only ones. Thankfully, once again, Bedsider to the rescue with 5 myths about the emergency contraceptive pill, busted. A quick disclaimer about this one, it does include one out-dated piece of information, which is that all of the pill options become less effective the longer you wait to take them. There is one pill, Ella, (which is the newest and available by prescription only) that doesn’t decrease in effectiveness.

Finally, be aware that the IUD is the only method that, once inserted, protects you against future pregnancy. Also, it is the most effective in terms of the pregnancy you are currently trying to prevent. Check it out:  IUDs Work Best for Emergency Contraceptive.

JoEllen-NotteJOELLEN NOTTE is helping to share the gospel of better living through better sex ed (amen!) – serving as both the Education Coordinator & Lead Sex Educator for the Portland Academy of Sex Education and a co-Emissary of Sex Geekdom Portland. Working as an adult retail consultant, she is working to help promote better sex through better adult retail. JoEllen first began fighting sexual mediocrity on her site theRedheadBedhead.com. Follow JoEllen on twitter: @bedheadtweeting