I-pill Safe Usage :Did it again without being safe? Here is the handy morning after pill

What is I-pill?

I-pill which is popularly known as the morning after pill is an emergency contraceptive pill; it is best to take the pill orally. The emergency contraceptive pill has to be consumed within 24hrs or max 72 hrs. after an unprotected sex. The faster you take the drug, the quicker it is because the pill becomes less successful as time passes.

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How does it work?

Levonorgestrel is the active ingredient present in the I-pill. Levonorgestrel mainly works by preventing the release of an egg (ovulation) during menstruation, it also helps to prevent by making the vaginal fluid thicker and changes the lining of the uterus (womb) by preventing the attachment of the fertilized egg. Thus it avoids pregnancy. 

How should you use it?

After an unplanned or forced sex take one I-pill as early as possible but no later than 72 hrs.  If you have sex when you're fertile, waiting several days to take emergency contraception could be too late. That's why experts say you should use it as soon as possible after having sex.

When and why do you have to take an I-pill? 

  • After having an un-protective sex 
  • Incorrect or inconsistent use of regular contraceptive methods
  • In case of contraceptive failure or mishaps
  • Expulsion or in case of slippage/leakage/breakage of condom 
  • In the event of sexual assault

Is it really effective? 

You should understand that not all women become pregnant after an unsafe sexual act even without taking any contraceptive pills. It is also impossible to predict who would become pregnant after an unprotected intercourse. A study shows that approximately 8% conception occurs after a single act of intercourse. Sexually active couple with normal fertility without taking any contraception has an average monthly chance of conceiving of 20-25%. 

I-pills are considered to be 90% effective if taken early, it is intended to protect you from unplanned pregnancy. Delayed intake will not be effective. 

Benefits of Emergency Contraceptive Pills  

  • Safe and effective
  • Easy to use and widely available
  • Can be taken at any time during the monthly cycle
  • A physical examination is not required
  • It is available without a prescription from a registered medical practitioner  
  • Can be given to women for whom use of hormonal contraceptive pills are not advised. 

What are the side effects of morning after pills?

Emergency contraception is used to prevent pregnancy for women who've had unprotected sex or whose birth control method has failed, but regular intake of these pills will be harmful to your health. One cannot use these pills as a primary method of birth control. 

If taken in a responsible way these I-pills are generally secure. However there are certain side effects of the morning-after pill, which typically lasts only a few days, might include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Breast tenderness
  • Bleeding between periods or heavier menstrual bleeding
  • Levonorgestrel, which can induce allergies in women, is the active component of this pill.
  • It will adversely affect your libido.
  • It can cause rashes on the skin
  • It may also react poorly with other medicine
  • Lower abdominal pain or cramps

Simple tips to ease out the side effects 


Women with irregular bleeding and spotting after taking with ECPs should be counseled that this is normal. They should be assured that there is nothing to worry about, also that it should not be confused with menses. 


Counseling should be given to women in case of irregular bleeding and spotting after consuming I-pills. Just assure them that there is nothing to worry about and it should not be confused with menses. 


Paracetamol, Aspirin or Ibuprofen tablets can be safely recommended for breast tenderness and headaches


I-pills are to be used only for emergency purposes 

Emergency contraceptive pills should not be used as a routine method of birth control, do not confuse it with standard contraceptive pills or abortion pills. This is because it contains high doses of hormones which, when taken on a regular basis, may dramatically alter your hormonal response.

Alternative to I-pills 

You can opt for other contraception options such as condoms, daily birth control pills, or intrauterine devices (IUDs) that can help prevent unintended pregnancy, although you can use I-pill several times in a month.

Types of other Emergency contraceptive pills available in India 

1) progestin-only pills or Mini pills 
2) Combined EC pills. 

Some EC pills can be bought over the counter without a prescription. Others require a prescription

I-pills are not abortion pills

Remember I-pills don’t work if you are already pregnant or have missed your cycle. These are only contraceptive pills which help you against unplanned pregnancy. 

Who can take these pills?

These emergency pills are only safe for women between the ages of 25 and 45. It is not the best contraceptive method for teenagers.

Facts about I-pill

  • I-pill is ineffective if a woman is already pregnant. 
  • I-pill does not offer protection against HIV/AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases.
  • It comes as an oral tablet which needs to be swallowed with water after eating some food.
  • A woman should go for a pregnancy test if her next menses are delayed by more than one week.
  • Lactating moms can take I-pills without any worry
  • It should not regularly be used since it is unhealthy if consumed more than two times in a month.

Pill can be less effective in women who have higher BMI

If your body mass Index (BMI) is high i.e. over 35, the I-pill cab be less effective and you might need a higher dose to compensate. It is always best to talk to your doctor before deciding it on your own. Do not take an extra dose without consulting your physician. 

Does it affect the future pregnancy?

It is one of the scariest thoughts that bother a woman in deciding to take a contraceptive pill for an emergency purpose. Doctors assure that these pills are currently believed to induce a temporary delay in pregnancy by affecting the hormone cycle (or menstrual cycle). Your chances of being pregnant in the future are not affected.

Usage of Emergency contraceptive pills in India 

In India, 33% of an estimated 48.1 million pregnancies end in induced abortions. Emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs) that can prevent pregnancy after sexual intercourse; have been part of India's family planning program.  

A study shows that only 6% of women use I-pills and the proportion of repeat use ranged from 12% to 69%. The reasons for less usage of ECPs are religious/cultural beliefs followed by fear of side effects and inadequate knowledge. 

However the change is happening and people are getting awareness about the usage and the benefits of responsibly using emergency contraceptive pills. 

The Government of India introduced Emergency Contraceptive Pills (ECP) in the National Family Welfare Program in 2003 as one of the strategies to prevent unwanted pregnancies. However the maternal deaths are still on the rise due to unsafe safe abortions. Prevention of unwanted pregnancy through methods of Emergency Contraception will help to reduce the number of maternal deaths from unsafe abortions and also to reduce fertility levels. However, there should be simultaneous realization of the fact that the real success of this service is to promote the acceptance of a regular contraceptive to prevent future pregnancies.

Clear understanding and proper usage of ECPs are totally beneficial. In case if you still have doubts feel free to talk to your gynecologist and things straight. 

 Image Source: Google Photos




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