Emergency Contraception: One Little Pill – One Huge Job

By Emily Murray

When we think of super heroes, visions of capes, strong men and crazy wall-climbing powers come to mind, but if you have ever been in a situation where your birth control has failed or you have had unplanned unprotected sex, a super hero to save you from your pregnancy woes looks a bit different. In fact, it comes in a single pill. It may not have  “S” on it’s chest but it might as well!

What is ella?
The newest emergency contraceptive is ella, marketed by Watson Pharmaceuticals.  Unlike the other morning after pills on the market, ella is effective for 120 hours (5 days) after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure. The other two main types of EC pills (Next Choice and Plan B) are only effect for 72 hours (3 days) after unprotected sex. Another difference is that ella remains equally as effective over the 5 days and the others lose effectiveness each hour that goes by after the incident.

How do Emergency Contraceptives Work?
It’s believed that sperm can live in the female reproductive tract for up to 5 days after sex has occurred. Even if you are not ovulating at the exact moment of sexual intercourse, if the egg is released anytime during those 5 days, the egg and sperm can join. ella keeps ovulati0n from occurring during that time period.

When Should You Take EC?
Anytime you have unprotected sex, there is a chance of pregnancy. Typically it’s believed that your odds of becoming pregnant are about 1 in 20. When you take Plan B or Next Choice, your odds are reduced to 1 in 40 and will ella the odds are 1 in 50. You may want to take EC if…

1. The condom breaks.
2. Other contractive fails (diaphragm slips, forgot to take ordinary birth control pills, etc…).
3. If you are the victim of rape or forced to have sex against your will.
4. If you had unprotected sex.

How and Where Do You Get EC?
Depending on what type of EC pill you decide to go with, you have several options.

1. Plan B and Next Choice are available over-the-counter for women 17 years and older.
2. ella is a prescription only medication and must be prescribed by  a doctor. For those 14 years and older, you can opt for an online medical assessment for ella and you can have your medication sent to your door next-day for $77.
3. Many local organizations (like Planned Parenthood) carry Plan B and Next Choice.

Why is it so Important to Back up Your Birth Control?
Pregnancy is something that can be wonderful and life-changing…when YOU plan for it. Many times, accidents happen and while you shouldn’t rely on EC as a routine form of birth control, it is there in case of emergency so that you have the choice. Many people don’t even know that this option exists and it’s important to spread the word. Taking EC also does not affect your ability to become pregnant in the future and does not have any long-term side effects.

Spread the Word! Today is the 10th Annual Back up Your Birth Control National Day of Action! Share this post on Twitter #BackitUp hashtag and on Facebook today to spread awareness about this important advocacy day!