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Have you recently taken the morning after pill, and are you still worried that you could be pregnant? Has your partner recently used emergency contraception and are you wondering whether it's going to be effective?

Changes within the menstrual cycle are bound to trigger pregnancy worries, but the menstrual irregularities you are seeing are most likely to be a side effect of the morning after pill rather than a sign of pregnancy — if you or your partner used emergency contraception as instructed. 

Menstrual Irregularities After Taking The Morning-After Pill

Delayed menstruation and light vaginal bleeding (or "spotting", which can indicate implantation bleeding) during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle are both possible symptoms of pregnancy. Women who have recently opted to use the morning after pill to prevent pregnancy will be concerned that they might have conceived despite emergency contraception if they notice delayed menstruation and vaginal bleeding. Should they really be worried? 

Research indicates that taking the morning-after pill has a significant disruptive effect on the menstrual cycle. It is quite normal for your period to begin seven days earlier or later than expected during the same cycle.

Vaginal bleeding or spotting is another occasional side effect of the morning after pill. 

You may also be interested to know that:

  • The earlier in your menstrual cycle you use emergency contraception, the sooner you are likely to get your next period. You can expect your period before it would otherwise have been due, in this case. 
  • Women who take the morning after pill during the last week of their cycle can expect a slightly longer menstrual period. 

In addition, women who are really stressed about the possibility of being pregnant despite using the morning after pill may notice that their menstruation is delayed as the result of that stress.

Can You Still Be Pregnant If You Took The Morning After Pill?

Between two and five percent of morning after pill users become pregnant despite using emergency contraception, but user error plays a role in this. As such, it is important that you take the morning after pill as instructed, and within the time window during which it can be expected to be effective. 

Morning after pills you can buy without prescription or age restrictions in the US include Plan B, Take Action, and Next Choice. Prescription-only pills such as ella are also available.

Regardless of which morning after pill you opted to use, following the instructions provided within the package insert is always important — and women should never use a combination of different morning after pills with the aim of "increasing efficacy". This can lead to drug interactions and cancel the effects of the active ingredients out. 

Where two doses are required, it is especially important to take the second dose at the instructed time. 

While emergency contraceptive pills may be effective for up to five days following unprotected intercourse, it is nonetheless important to access the morning after pill as soon as possible to increase the chances that it will be effective. 

If your menstruation still hasn't started a week after it was due, please take a pregnancy test. 

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