|Where Women Have No Doctor - A Health Guide for Women (Hesperian Foundation, 1997, 600 p.)|
|Chapter 13: Family Planning|
Emergency methods are ways for women to avoid pregnancy after having unprotected sex. These methods prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the womb wall. They are only effective if used soon after having sex.
Emergency methods are safe and effective. But they are not as effective as consistent use of the other family planning methods discussed in this chapter and they can cause unpleasant side effects.
The pills used for emergency family planning are the same combined birth control pills that some women take each day. But in emergencies, you take a much higher dose for a short time. You must take the pills within 3 days (72 hours) of having unprotected sex. The pills will not work if you are pregnant from having sex more than 3 days earlier.
¨ Emergency family planning methods should not be used instead of other methods.
How to take Emergency Pills:
Low dose pills. Take 4 low-dose birth control pills, which contain 35 mcg of the estrogen called ethinyl estradiol. Then take 4 more tablets 12 hours after the first dose. Some common brands are Brevicon 1 + 35, Lo-Femenal, Lo-Ovral, Microgynon 30, Microvlar, Neocon, Nordette, Ortho-Novum 1/35, 1/50.
High dose pills. Take 2 high-dose birth control pills, which contain 50 mcg of the estrogen called ethinyl estradiol. Then take 2 more tablets 12 hours after the first dose. Some common brands are Ovral, Femenal, Primovlar, Norlestrin, Ovcon 50, Nordiol, Eugynon, and Neogynon.
Emergency pills can make you have headaches or feel nauseous. Try eating something at the same time you take the pills and, if possible, take a medicine that will keep you from vomiting. If you vomit within 3 hours of taking the pills, you should take them again.
Until your next monthly bleeding, you should use a barrier method of family planning, like condoms, or not have sex. After your monthly bleeding, you can use any family planning method you choose.
Your next monthly bleeding should begin in about 2 weeks. If it does not, you may have become pregnant despite the emergency family planning. You should continue to use a barrier method of family planning until you know for sure.
OTHER EMERGENCY METHODS
Mini pills (progestin only pills). These pills contain no estrogen, so they cause less nausea than combined birth control pills. They only work if taken within 2 days (48 hours) of having unprotected sex.
· Take 20 mini pills followed by 20 more pills 12 hours after the first dose.
Mifepristone, also known as RU 486 or the French Pill, causes less nausea and vomiting than the other emergency pills.
· Take 600 mg within 3 days of having unprotected sex. Take this amount only once.
IUD (Intra-Uterine Device): An IUD can also keep the egg from attaching to the womb wall.
· The IUD must be inserted by a specially trained health worker within 5 days after having unprotected sex. The IUD can be kept in and continue to protect you from pregnancy for up to 10 years. Do not have an IUD inserted if you are at risk of having an STD.
New methods of family planning
The following new methods of family planning are available or are being developed. They may only be available in some places and may be expensive. We include them here because the more women know about new methods and ask for them, the more likely it is that the methods will become available for everyone and perhaps be less costly. The more methods there are, the more likely it is that every woman who wants to prevent pregnancy will be able to find a method that suits her needs.
1. Plastic condoms are made from very fine polyurethane. They are thinner than latex condoms and allow for more feeling. They are less likely to be damaged by heat or oils.
If you are offered a new method of family planning, be sure to discuss any concerns you have before choosing that method. Make sure you have all the information you need to make a good choice, and that you are not being pressured into using a method that is not right for you.