The Myth of Using the Morning After Pill

Oh, God! Will I have gotten pregnant? This is the question millions of women ask themselves hours after having unprotected sex. The possibility of an unwanted conception terrifies them.

The Woman Post | María Consuelo Caicedo Toro

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The Morning After Pill delays ovulation and prevents the fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus if it has already occurred. So why not use it?

Before the world had the Morning After Pill, unusual methods were used to prevent pregnancy. Instead of the couple staying cuddling in bed after intercourse, women had to run to douche with liquids recommended by friends, mothers, and liberal-minded aunts. Its use could have a comical tinge if we imagine an unromantic scene like this: The woman raises her hips and spreads her legs while her partner lets vinegar solutions, strange herbs, wine mixed with garlic, and even homemade disinfectants diluted in water. The results of these postcoital incidents without any scientific basis, of course, were not effective.

The investigations were initiated by the Canadian gynecologist Albert Yuzpe in the early 1970s. Later taken up by other scientists came to a successful conclusion because, at the end of the 20th century, specifically in 1998, the World Health Organization (WHO) included in its catalog of medications a postcoital pill whose components render pregnancy ineffective. This medicine has its detractors and fans. The former considers it a method of abortion, and the latter are happy that it exists and make frequent use of it.

Is it a method to abort? Apparently not, if we understand that pregnancy would begin more or less seven days after sexual intercourse. During this time, the embryo would be implanted in the uterus. The job of the Morning After Pill would be to delay ovulation and, if ovulation has already occurred, prevent the fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus.

Efficacy and Effects

According to the WHO, the Morning After Pill registers a high degree of efficacy since the pregnancy rates are shown by two studies carried out by this global entity barely reach between 1.2% and 2.1%. Of course, it must be taken shortly after sexual intercourse, that is, between 72 and 120 hours. The delay in ingesting it decreases its potential to prevent pregnancy.

Its effects on women may include vomiting, nausea, tiredness, and slight vaginal bleeding for 24 hours. On the other hand, the WHO ensures that its use does not affect female fertility or inhibit sexual desire.


Emergency Contraception in Latin America

It's imperative to promote women's reproductive and sexual rights to prevent unwanted pregnancies and abortions that put the pregnant woman's life at risk. Although emergency contraception is known by millions of women globally, the Pan American Journal of Public Health points out that it is essential to deepen the training of officials of health promotion entities in Latin America. Especially in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico, Paraguay, and Peru. The media must be involved in disseminating information, and governments must ensure the free distribution of the Morning After Pill.

The Pan American Journal of Public Health also concludes that in Latin countries, "the availability, cost, and distribution of dedicated products (for emergency contraception) in pharmacies should be improved, and studies should continue to be carried out on the conditions in which the drug is used, as well as the postcoital method and its relationship with condom use and other contraceptive methods."

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