Everything you need to know about the morning-after pill
Sex without a condom, it can happen. Or maybe the condom breaks. To be precise: 30% of all women has unprotected sex at least once a year. It is truly nothing to be ashamed of. Thank god for the morning-after pill. You can find it in most pharmacies, so no need to ask for a prescription from your GP. It also doesn’t matter how old you are; everyone can buy the morning-after pill. For 15 to 20 euros, you can get rid of your oh-help-maybe-I'm-pregnant-insecurities.
You can get pregnant throughout the entirety of your menstrual cycle, and sperm can also remain active for up to 5 days. On top of that, a morning-after pill works best within 24 hours of unprotected sex. So if something went wrong during intercourse and you don't want to get pregnant, it's wise to take action as soon as possible.
Norlevo and EllaOne
There are two types of morning-after pills you can get in the Netherlands: Norlevo and EllaOne. You can take the Norlevo up to 72 hours after unprotected sex, but it works best if you take it within 12 hours after. You can take the Norlevo at any time during your menstrual cycle. The EllaOne works up to 120 hours after unprotected sex. The EllaOne contains the substance ulipristal acetate and can be taken at any point during the menstrual cycle just like the Norlevo pill.
When is it safe to have sex again? It is recommended to use condoms after using the morning-after pill until the next menstruation, or until you have taken the regular birth control pill again for at least 7 consecutive days.
Less well known is that up to 5 days after unprotected sex, you can also opt for a copper IUD, which you can have placed by a doctor. This is also called the morning-after IUD. This works better than the morning-after pill and it can stay in place, protecting you from unwanted pregnancy (but not STDs!) for at least the next 5 years.
It all sounds very easy and simple, but the morning-after pill is really just for emergencies. It is much less reliable than the birth control pill and has a lot of nasty side effects. Think about nausea, vomiting, stomach ache, headache, exhaustion and dizziness, sensitive breasts, spotting and irregular bleeding. We think that’s a pretty long list…
Last but not least
If the unprotected sex was longer than five days ago, you cannot use a morning-after pill or morning-after IUD anymore. You will have to wait and see if you get pregnant. The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport in the Netherlands has created a new information point for women with unplanned pregnancies. This information point provides support, education and advice and can be found at www.onbedoeldzwanger.info.
Want to know more about the morning-after pill and all of the facts and myths surrounding it? Read our article all about that!