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Are There Any Long-Term Side Effects From the Morning-After Pill?

No, there are no known long-term side effects associated with taking the morning-after pill. There are, however, mild side effects that usually go away quickly.

How Does the Morning-After Pill Work?

The morning-after pill is a type of emergency contraceptive you can take after having unprotected sex to reduce your chances of getting pregnant. It works by preventing or delaying the ovary from ovulating or releasing an egg to be fertilized. There are two types of FDA-approved morning-after pills:

  • Plan B, which you can take up to three days after having unprotected sex. Plan B is available over the counter, and comes in generic versions.
  • Ella, which you can take up to five days after having unprotected sex. Ella requires a prescription.

The sooner you can take either pill, the more effective it will be.

Common Side Effects

Some women experience mild side effects after taking the morning-after pill, including:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Abdominal pain
  • Breast pain
  • Fatigue
  • Spotting

The morning-after pill can also affect your next period. Don’t be surprised if it’s lighter, heavier, or a few days earlier or later than usual. Cramping might also be more or less painful. Your period should return to normal by the next month’s cycle. We recommend taking a pregnancy test if your period does not occur within 4 weeks of taking emergency contraceptives.

Pregnancy

While not exactly a side effect, there is a small chance you can become pregnant even after taking the morning-after pill. Its efficacy ranges from 58-95%, depending on how soon after sex you take it. If you do become pregnant, the pill won’t have any long-term effects on your pregnancy or the baby.

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