The morning-after pill: 5 surprising facts you probably didn’t know
The morning-after pill is a drug designed to protect against unwanted pregnancy. It is taken immediately in the hours after intercourse when contraception has failed. For example, because the condom broke or there is a risk that the birth control pill has lost its effectiveness (e.g. due to vomiting or diarrhea after taking it). Since the morning-after pill delays ovulation and thus prevents conception, it is extremely important to take it as soon as possible after intercourse. However, according to a survey conducted by Nielsen Media Germany GmbH on behalf of HRA Pharma Deutschland GmbH, a full 26 percent of the women surveyed do not even know the morning-after pill, and more than half are not familiar with the most important facts. The main reason for this is the ban on advertising the morning-after pill, which has been in place since 2015. This means that doctors and pharmacists, for example, are not allowed to actively advertise the morning-after pill to consumers.
37 percent of respondents said they had taken the morning-after pill before. However, most women only deal with the morning-after pill when they want to use it. As already mentioned, there is not much time for research, which is why we explain the most important facts about the morning-after pill to you.
The morning-after pill is available in pharmacies without a prescription
Probably the biggest myth about emergency contraception: you first have to go to the gynecologist to get a prescription for the pharmacy. Incorrect! If you want to take the morning-after pill, you can simply go to the nearest pharmacy and get the medication. In most cases, the pharmacist will only ask you a few (discrete) questions and give you instructions on how to take it. In 2015, the EU Commission lifted the prescription requirement for the morning-after pill.
The morning-after pill is not a hormone bomb
You may have heard that the morning-after pill throws your hormones off track and that you feel tired, drained and maybe even slightly depressed after taking it. Side effects that were quite common in the first preparations at the end of the nineties, since the morning-after pill has been on the German market. However, the drug is now composed in such a way that the side effects of the active ingredient ulipristal acetate are minor or hardly noticeable in most women. This is also the reason why the preparation is available without a medical examination and prescription.
The morning-after pill can be taken several times
Theoretically, the morning-after pill can even be taken several times within a cycle. The myth that emergency contraception can make you infertile is not true. If the morning-after pill had severe or long-term side effects, the EU Commission would never have exempted it from the prescription requirement.
The morning-after pill is not an abortion
It is also often assumed that the morning-after pill acts like an abortion pill and ends a pregnancy. However, this is not the case at all, because the “morning after pill” prevents fertilization and thus pregnancy from occurring in the first place. It is only responsible for postponing ovulation, which could lead to conception. So if you had unprotected intercourse before you ovulated, it is important to use the morning-after pill to delay ovulation as soon as possible so that the sperm cannot implant themselves. The morning-after pill delays ovulation by up to five days. This corresponds to the span of the maximum length of time that sperm can survive in the female genital tract.
The morning-after pill is not very expensive
It is often the supposedly high cost of the morning-after pill that keeps women from getting the drug from the pharmacy. Depending on the product, the morning-after pill costs between 16 and 35 euros and is even covered by health insurance if you have a prescription and are under 22 years old.