January 15, 2009

Q&A: The Morning After Pill & Frequent Emergency Contraception Use

A podcast addressing frequent use of emergency contraception or the morning after pill and why a consistent birth control plan is a better policy.

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Question: I’ve been having sex with my boyfriend for a little over a month. Already I have had to take the morning after pill twice after unprotected sex. Then, today, we determined I should take it again. The previous times I have taken it, it caused a few days to a week of bleeding. Would that be considered my period? If so, can I still get pregnant during those times or should I be okay if we have sex then?

The fact that you have been having sex for about a month and have already taken emergency contraception, also known as the morning after pill, two times – and almost a third time now – is something that I would strongly suggest you speak with your healthcare provider, or a trusted parent or adult, about.

Emergency Contraception: Not For Frequent Use

Emergency contraception pills are not recommended for frequent use. If you and your boyfriend have decided to have sex with each other, then I would strongly suggest exploring other options for preventing pregnancy.

For example, have you considered using condoms? Not only would condoms greatly reduce your risk of pregnancy if you use them consistently and correctly, but they can also greatly reduce your risk of getting or giving one another several sexually transmissible infections, or STIs.

Since you seem comfortable with hormonal contraception, which is what emergency contraception is a form of, you might also ask your healthcare provider about birth control options such as the birth control pill, patch, shot or ring. Although they are all highly effective, some are easier to use than others and may be better choices for you.

No “Safe” Days

As you mentioned, some women do experience spotting or bleeding after they take the emergency contraception but it is not necessarily the same as a period and you can absolutely get pregnant during this time period. There are no absolute “safe” days during which a woman cannot get pregnant, especially if she is relatively young and has irregular cycles.

Please take the time to talk to your boyfriend about your choice to be sexual with each other and ways that you can reduce your risk of pregnancy. Try to identify at least one adult or healthcare provider that you can feel comfortable talking to about your choices regarding sex so that you can take care of your sexual health and reduce your risk of pregnancy.

Recommended Reading

You might find it helpful to read S.E.X.: The All-You-Need-To-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and College by Heather Corinna or to visit the web site of Planned Parenthood for detailed information about birth control methods and healthcare services.