The morning after pill: common myths debunked

We all know what it is and what it is used for, but how accurately do you understand how the morning after pill works, where you can get it from and how you should take it? With so many misconceptions and rumors surrounding emergency contraception, it can be difficult to separate fact from fiction. If you’re struggling to figure out what’s true and what’s false, here are some of the most common myths about the morning after pill debunked.

pill myths

It’s difficult to get hold of

Many women are reluctant to use emergency contraception as they feel it will either be too difficult or embarrassing to get hold of. However, nowadays there are plenty of easy and discreet ways you can access it without the need for an awkward chat with a doctor or pharmacist. For example, as well as GP surgeries and sexual health clinics, the morning after pill is now available over the counter from most pharmacies. If you don’t want to have a face-to-face encounter, you can also purchase it safely and confidentially from online healthcare services, such as Europa Pharmacy. Ordering the morning after pill in advance online can also mean you are prepared in case you ever need it in the future.

It must be taken within 24 hours

Despite its name, the morning after pill does not have to be used within 24 hours of unprotected sex. The truth is, it can be effective for up to three to five days, depending on the type of pill you use. Levonelle can be effective at preventing pregnancy for up to 72 hours after sex, while ellaOne can be taken up to 120 hours after. However, both pills are more effective if they are taken within the first day, and ellaOne is considered to be more effective than Levonelle when taken within three days. The longer you delay taking it, the higher the risk of pregnancy.

It’s the same as getting an abortion

Contrary to popular belief, taking the morning after pill is not the same as having an abortion. The tablet contains similar hormones to the normal contraceptive pill and works in pretty much the same way – by preventing the egg from becoming fertilised or from implanting. An abortion terminates a pregnancy once the egg has already been fertilised and implanted.

It can affect your fertility

Another common misconception is that using the morning after pill more than once can make you infertile. However, there has been no scientific evidence to suggest this is true. Emergency contraception only temporarily affects your ability to get pregnant. While healthcare experts do advise that it should only be used as a one-off and should not be taken instead of regular contraception, using the morning after pill more than once will not should not have any affect on your long-term fertility.

If you have any further questions about emergency contraception, check the patient information leaflet that comes with the pill or speak to your doctor.

**Disclaimer – this is a collaborative post**

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24 Comments

  1. February 5, 2016 / 2:23 pm

    A really important post, we really need to ensure that women have the correct information so that they can make the best choices. This is great.

    • February 5, 2016 / 2:25 pm

      Thanks Jenni exactly the aim of this post

  2. February 4, 2016 / 3:28 pm

    This is such an important post. Having had to take the MAP once before I know how stressful it can be to make the decision to take just in case of future infertility.

    • February 4, 2016 / 3:50 pm

      Thanks Ami

  3. February 3, 2016 / 9:21 pm

    This is an informative post that I hope reaches women who need it. Thankfully I have never had to use it, but may have considered it in an emergency

    • February 3, 2016 / 9:24 pm

      Thanks Kara

  4. February 3, 2016 / 8:04 pm

    I think because it is a relatively new tablet for 40 something women we don’t fully understand how it works I imagine those in their 20’s view it better and in the correct way.

    • February 3, 2016 / 8:48 pm

      I didn’t realise that but good to know different generations view it differently

  5. February 3, 2016 / 7:52 pm

    Great post – it is important to share the facts – particularly the difference between this and an abortion. Kaz x

    • February 3, 2016 / 8:48 pm

      Thanks Kaz

  6. February 3, 2016 / 7:28 pm

    This is a fantastic guide I had to take my friend to get one after New Year and she felt embarrassed but the woman who helped us was so lovely to hear about it and gave free advice.

    • February 3, 2016 / 7:46 pm

      How nice of you Ana to go with your friend and I think most people are embarrassed to talk about it so people just hear myths and stick with them as gospel true

  7. February 3, 2016 / 6:31 pm

    This is a great informative post. I think every young woman should be aware that this is a good option if something goes wrong and there is the possibility of an unwanted pregnancy.

    • February 3, 2016 / 7:44 pm

      Thanks Cliona I agree to

  8. February 3, 2016 / 12:31 pm

    It’s great that you are sharing this information, personally I have no problem talking to a pharmacist about things like this lol we all have slip ups from time to time. Nothing to be ashamed of

    • February 3, 2016 / 1:02 pm

      That’s true back home that’s not to culture it’s like a taboo but slowly evolving

  9. February 3, 2016 / 11:33 am

    Great to dispel some of the myths – I know I have talked these things through with my 19 year old, just in case! These days my OH has had the snip, such a relief not to have to worry any more!

    • February 3, 2016 / 1:02 pm

      Ouch lol and glad you talked to your 19yo

  10. February 3, 2016 / 11:29 am

    This is a really informative post. Schools are getting much better at sexual health lessons, but in my opinion if you don’t have all the facts about Sex and protecting yourself responsibly – young people shouldn’t be having any xxx

    • February 3, 2016 / 1:01 pm

      My sentiments exactly but in this day and age it’s all about I have a right to ….

  11. February 3, 2016 / 10:17 am

    Thanks for sharing this – so important that we’re all informed about this kind of thing, It should be covered better in schools but I suspect that the reality is that the curriculum and exam pressure means that many just don’t get round to it.

    • February 3, 2016 / 1:00 pm

      I agree most school don’t get round to it but it’s best to stay informed

  12. February 3, 2016 / 9:47 am

    interesting post. I guess this must be useful for girls/women who don’t want to get pregnant and need to understand the realities of this pill. A very informative piece. Angela

    • February 3, 2016 / 9:51 am

      Thanks Angela, absolutely geared towards the younger women who have been misinformed

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