The Morning After Pill

By Joshua Ng (CARiNG Pharmacist) | Malaysia | Mon Sep 25, 2017 3:22pm

(10 Frequently Asked Questions)

It is an awkward experience to approach a pharmacist/doctor to purchase an emergency contraceptive. So in case you're too shy to ask, these FAQs might give you a better understanding of the drug.

Let’s begin with some basic facts:

The emergency contraceptive is also known as ‘the morning after pill’. It is taken to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. There are two common types of drugs in this group of medication, one is levonorgestrel and the other is ulipristal. These are readily available in pharmacies and clinics in Malaysia.


1. When should I take the pill to prevent a pregnancy?
Levonorgestrel should be taken within 72 hours from the episode of unprotected sex. Ulipristal should be taken within 120 hours (5 days) from the episode of unprotected sex.

2. What happens if I take the pill late?
The earlier this pill is taken, the more effective it is (i.e. taking the pill on day-1 is more effective than on day-3 in preventing pregnancy). However, if you pass the deadline (over 3 days for levonorgestrel AND over 5 days for ulipristal), the chances of an unwanted pregnancy is greatly increased. In this case, consult a doctor.

3. How effective is the pill?
Generally if taken in time, both types of pills can prevent pregnancy up to a success rate of about 90%. Take note it is not a 100% guarantee to prevent pregnancy.

4. What are the side effects of the Pill?
The possible side effects are headache, nausea, vomiting and lower abdominal pain, menstrual bleeding disturbance, dizziness, fatigue and breast tenderness.

5. Is this pill better than a regular hormonal contraceptive?
The pill is useful if it is used infrequently. However if you have unprotected sex very regularly, a cyclical hormonal contraceptive would be better as it can also regulate your hormones.

6. How frequent can I take the pill?
There is no official maximum dosage for the use of emergency contraceptive pill. A rule of thumb is not more than twice a month. Frequent usage of the pill can affect your cycle and cause irregular menstrual bleeding.

7. What if I vomit after taking the pill?
If you vomit within 2 hours of taking this pill, the pill might be out from your system.  Please take another pill immediately and after food to reduce the chance of vomiting.

8. How will the pill affect my next period?
Your period will likely come 3-5 days earlier than expected. However, if periods are delayed for more than 5 days or if a pregnancy is suspected, consult a doctor.

9. How does the pill actually work?
Levonorgestrel alters the environment to make it difficult for the sperm to reach the egg (ovum) to cause fertilization. It may also cause changes in the effect it makes it difficult for the fertilized egg itself to implant unto the uterus lining. Ulipristal works similarly. In addition, ulipristal can also delay and inhibit an ovulation thereby preventing the egg from availing itself to the sperm.

10. Can I use this pill for an abortion?
This pill cannot be used for an abortion. It is only for use within a 3 or 5 day window after unprotected sex. If a pregnancy is suspected, consult a doctor.


Reference : Product Information Leaflets for Escapelle and Ella.




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