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Can I Take the Morning After Pill While Taking Birth Control Pills?

You must wait five days before you resume taking your birth control pills after using the Ella morning after pill. It’s safe to continue taking your birth control pills as usual only if you use the Plan B One-StepMy Way, or Next Choice One Dose morning after pill for emergency contraception.

You can take the morning after pill up to three to five days after unprotected sex, depending on the brand, so make sure you follow the directions carefully. Some medications might change the morning after pill’s effectiveness, so talk to your Nurx™ medical provider if you’re not sure whether this form of emergency contraception is right for you.

How to Use Ella for Emergency Contraception

Ella contains a drug called ulipristal. This nonhormonal ingredient acts as a hormone-blocker that prevents pregnancy by delaying or avoiding ovulation and attachment to the uterine wall.

The hormone-blocker in Ella could counteract the hormones in your birth control. This is why you must wait five days after taking Ella to resume taking your normal birth control pills.

After taking Ella, you’ll need to use a form of nonhormonal contraception to protect against pregnancy until you can start taking your pills again. Options for nonhormonal contraception to use during that five-day period include:

  • Male condoms.
  • Female condoms.
  • Diaphragms.
  • Cervical caps.
  • Sponges.
  • Spermicides.

You can take Ella for up to five days after having unprotected sex. It’s more effective than Plan B and the other hormonal options just before ovulation, when the chances of becoming pregnant are highest.

Ella is available by prescription only, so you’ll need to see a medical provider to get it. Fortunately, Nurx™ makes it easy to get a prescription for Ella online for as low as $0 with insurance or as little as $45 without insurance.

How to Use Plan B, Next Choice, or My Way for Emergency Contraception

While Ella is the only type of nonhormonal emergency contraception, Plan B One-Step, Next Choice One Dose, and My Way are all hormonal emergency contraception brands. These morning after pills feature a type of progestin called levonorgestrel. This hormone is similar to the one commonly found in birth control pills. Progestin works by preventing or delaying ovulation. In addition, the hormone makes it much more difficult for fertilization to occur and interferes with the egg’s ability to attach itself to the uterus.

The hormones in your birth control pills will not reduce the efficacy of the Plan B One-Step, Next Choice One Dose, or My Way morning after pill. If you normally use birth control pills for contraception, you should continue taking your pill on your regular schedule when you use any of these hormonal emergency contraception options.

The morning after pill does not prevent you from becoming pregnant after you take it. With My Way, Plan B One-Step, and Next Choice One Dose, it’s important to stay on schedule with your pills regardless of how long after unprotected sex or what time of day you take your emergency contraception.

Hormonal morning after pills are available over the counter in most drugstores, pharmacies, and large grocery stores. You can take Plan B One-Step, My Way, or Next Choice One Dose within 72 hours after having unprotected sex. The sooner you can take it, the more effective it will be. When taken as directed, about seven out of every eight women who would have conceived won’t become pregnant after using a hormonal morning after pill.

What to Expect After Taking the Morning After Pill

Although many people feel fine after taking the morning after pill, it can cause the following side effects:

  • Changes to your period (early, late, lighter, or heavier).
  • Nausea.
  • Cramps.
  • Headache.
  • Dizziness.
  • Fatigue.
  • Breast tenderness.
  • Vomiting.

These potential symptoms are the same regardless of whether you take the nonhormonal or hormonal version. If you throw up within two hours of taking the morning after pill, call your healthcare provider to find out if you need to take another dose.

Although these pills can affect your period, if your period is more than seven days late, you might be pregnant. If that happens, take a pregnancy test or make an appointment with your medical provider. If your period is late and you also have severe abdominal pain, it could indicate a possible ectopic (occurring outside the uterus) pregnancy, so you need to seek emergency medical treatment right away.

Do Other Medications Affect How the Morning After Pill Works?

While it’s safe to also take birth control pills when you take the morning after pill, other medications could potentially reduce its effectiveness. Some of these supplements and prescriptions include:

  • Certain HIV/AIDS medications.
  • Barbiturates.
  • Bosentan.
  • Carbamazepine.
  • Felbamate.
  • Griseofulvin.
  • Modafinil.
  • Oxcarbazepine.
  • Phenytoin.
  • Rifampin.
  • St. John’s wort.
  • Topiramate.

Ask a pharmacist or call your medical provider if you’re not sure whether the medications you’re taking could make your morning after pill less effective.

Other Emergency Contraception Options

You can also have a copper intrauterine device (IUD) inserted as a form of emergency contraception. The copper IUD is more than 99% effective, making it the most reliable form of emergency contraception. You can have it inserted up to five days after having unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy.

If you were using birth control pills before you had unprotected sex, you won’t need to resume taking them once you have the copper IUD inserted. This type of IUD can stay in place for up to 10 years, so you should only use it for emergency contraception if you plan to keep it long-term. The copper IUD is not recommended for women with:

  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
  • Gonorrhea.
  • Chlamydia.
  • A history of puerperal sepsis.
  • Unexplained vaginal bleeding.
  • Cervical cancer.
  • Severe thrombocytopenia.

It’s important to know what your emergency contraception options are so you know what to do if you have unprotected sex or your regular birth control fails.

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