Feb 192002
Authors: Natilia Peters

Often called the morning after pill, emergency contraception could prevent 1.7 million unintended pregnancies and 800,000 abortions each year.

According to the Journal of the American Medical Women’s Association, approximately 50 percent of all pregnancies are unplanned.

Emergency contraceptives are methods of preventing pregnancy after unprotected sexual intercourse, such as when condoms break, when the birth control pill has not been taken for two or more days, or when a sexual assault occurs.

Emergency contraceptives are not intended to be used as a method of birth control, and do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases and infections.

“We want women to know they have a choice if they are worried that they could be pregnant,” said Kari Quandt, Planned Parenthood Education and Public Affairs employee.

If used within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse, emergency contraceptives are safe and highly effective.

“There is talk about having it over the counter, and it is something that can be taken multiple times,” Quandt said.

The two most commonly used emergency contraceptives are a combined estrogen-progestin regimen and a progestin-only regimen.

Although no long or short-term effects are associated with emergency contraceptives, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, fatigue and breast tenderness can occur in some women when using the regimen.

Emergency contraceptives are readily available for those seeking it. Women’s clinics, physician offices and hospitals are equipped with emergency contraceptives.

“The thing we try to do is educate women, but let them know that this available to them if they happen to need it,” Quandt said. n

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