The second time I rediscovered this was while watching the famous American sitcom Friends. Rachel discovers to her shock that she is pregnant in spite of Ross having used a condom. Apparently, condoms are not 100% effective against pregnancy either!
And finally, a few years later, I got another news that shook me to the core. The morning after pill, that is supposed to be the liberated woman's best friend, can fail too! Yes, the one thing that we thought is absolutely dependable is not, in fact, absolutely dependable.
One of my close friends, who had wanted to wait for a couple of years before having a child, discovered just a month into her wedding that she had conceived. This was even though she had taken the emergency contraceptive without any delay. Firstly, when I got the news, I could not believe it. So I immediately looked up Sir Google, and true as daylight, I found out that it was possible to get pregnant even after taking emergency contraceptive.
So how does this really happen? Here are a few situations that can lead to pregnancy, even if you took the morning after pill:
1. You throw up immediately after taking it
If you throw up within an hour of taking the morning-after pill, the pill gets removed from your system. If you do not take another pill soon after, you might get pregnant.
2. You fail to take it soon enough
Depending on your menstrual cycle, and which kind of morning-after pill you wish to consume, you might have anywhere between 3 to 5 days (from the day you had unprotected sex) to consume the morning-after pill for it to be effective. Having said that, it is best to pop the pill the very next day, or at least within 72 hours (i.e. 3 days) and no later. Chances of the pill working drop progressively after 72 hours.
3. You had ovulated or were ovulating when you had sex
To understand this, first get this: Morning after pills prevent pregnancy by delaying ovulation. So, if you have already ovulated before (or are ovulating while) having unprotected sex, the pill is not going to help, even if you pop it the very next day. Your fertile period, or 'window-period' – that is, from 2 days before, to 2 days after you ovulate – is hence a high-risk period, and chances of you getting pregnant are very high. In fact, couples that want to have a baby engage in planned, unprotected sex during this period. Remember, the morning after pill will not be effective in this period.
4. You start a course of birth control pills
As a married woman, it is possible that you may be on a birth control plan/course already. Emergency contraceptives do not work well in such a case. They interfere with the birth control pills, and eventually it can prove to be quite disruptive on the body. In the opposite case: if you have taken an emergency contraceptive pill, then do not start a course of birth control pills for at least the next 5 days.
5. You have weight control issues
It's been said that the morning after pill is less effective in overweight women. It is because the dose isn't high enough to be as effective. The risk of failure with oral emergency contraception is almost triple for women with a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 30 or more, and 1.5 times for women with a BMI of 25 to 29.9.
6. You have more unprotected sex after your dose
So you took an emergency contraceptive, and think you cannot get pregnant now, even if you have sex again, right? WRONG! Morning-after pills delay ovulation, they do not put s top to it. This means, you are going to ovulate maybe 2 or 3 days later. So if you have unprotected sex after taking the pill, you can still get pregnant!
A General Word Of Caution and Advice
No contraceptive method is foolproof. However, with caution and care, you can avoid those two pink lines on that stick for as long as you want and have a baby only when you are fully prepared. Remember that all emergency contraceptive methods wreak havoc on your body and your hormonal cycle/level. They also have a considerable number of side-effects. These may be less or more evident from woman to woman, depending on age, constitution, weight, menstrual cycle, and other health complications (related or non-related to menses).
Take the time to get to know your period cycle well. Use a calendar to mark dates of ovulation and when your period starts. Understand how female menstrual cycle and conception works.
Finally, try and abstain from sex during your fertile period or window period if you don't want to get pregnant. This might be tricky, since the urge to have sex is the highest around this time. So if you decide to get busy, you can use multiple external contraceptives to be extra sure: a condom and a vaginal contraceptive (film, pill, etc.). Play safe!
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