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Around 45 percent of all pregnancies were unplanned. When your condom breaks or you forgot to use one in the spur of the moment, emergency contraceptives offer you a last chance to prevent experiencing an unwanted pregnancy yourself. 

You have two emergency contraception options:

  • A copper intrauterine device such as Paragard, which provides you with emergency contraception and long-term contraception simultaneously. 
  • The morning after pill. 
You can use the morning after pill for up to five days, which equals 120 hours, after unprotected sex. The morning after pill is usually more effective the sooner after sex it is used, however. 

Progestin-only morning after pills have largely replaced combined estrogen and progesterone morning after pills now, because they are both more effective at preventing pregnancy and lead to fewer side effects. This doesn't mean that there are no side effects at all, though, and many women who use emergency contraceptive pills experience changes in their menstrual cycles. Plan B and Next Choice are among the more popular choices when it comes to progestin-only emergency contraceptive pills. 

Menstrual Cycle After Taking The Morning After Pill: What Can I Expect?

You can expect to have a period within one month of using the morning after pill, but it may not come at its usual time. Your period may arrive a week early or a week late, and the earlier in your cycle you used the morning after pill, the sooner your menstrual flow usually turns up. Your period may also last longer, and your menstrual flow may be heavier, after using the morning after pill. 

Vaginal bleeding between periods is also one of the potential side effects of using the morning after pill. This means that you may experience bleeding that you think is your period but isn't. 

Should I Worry About Pregnancy If My Period Doesn't Arrive On Time?

Plan B One Step and Next Choice morning after pills are both 89 percent effective at preventing pregnancy if they are taken within 72 hours after unprotected sexual intercourse. They still reduce your odds of getting pregnant if you take them between 72 and 120 hours after sex, but they will be less effective. These levonorgestrel-based pills are also less likely to work if you are overweight or obese. 

The ella morning after pill is 85 percent effective if used within 120 hours of unprotected sex, and it's equally effective regardless of when you take it. 

This means, in short, that the morning after pill is less effective at preventing pregnancy than all regular contraceptive methods, except perhaps the withdrawal method. They're also less effective than the Paragard copper IUD, which can be used as emergency contraception. 

The morning after pill greatly reduces your chances of an unwanted pregnancy, but it's not perfect. Taking a pregnancy test if your period doesn't arrive makes sense, even though the morning after pill is known to disturb your menstrual cycle — if you are indeed pregnant, you will want to know about this as soon as you can. 

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