does emergency pill affect fertility?


Does emergency pill affect fertility ?

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Taking an emergency pill won't affect your fertility and will not affect your pregnancy in future. But clinicians suggest not to use it as it is not as effective as other regular contraceptives such as pill, condom, implant, coil, etc. The 2020 Fact Not Fiction survey, launched by the morning after pill brand Ella One, found that 40% of people believed that the emergency pill can make you infertile if you use it too many times and 51% said they believed it should not be taken more than once in the same cycle. But the emergency pill can be taken after any unprotected sex or contraceptive failure without causing any affect in future pregnancy. The sooner it is taken after unprotected sex the more effective it will be. If taken within 72 hours it can reduce the risk by 75% to 89%.

What is an emergency pill? 

Emergency pill also known as morning-after pills are to be taken immediately after having unprotected sex as a method of contraception. Taking an emergency pill for too long is not a good idea. Instead, if you are not ready for a pregnancy, talk to your doctor and chart out a contraception plan, rather than depending on these emergency pills. 

Frequent use of Emergency pills may cause periods to become irregular and unpredictable.

Who can use emergency pills ?

Any woman or girl of reproductive age can take an emergency pill to avoid an unwanted pregnancy. There are no absolute medical contraindications to use an emergency pill. There are no age limits to the use of emergency contraception pills. Emergency contraceptive pills were found to be less effective in obese women those having body mass index more than 30 kg/m2, but there are no safety concerns. Obese women can take emergency contraception pills when they need it.

In what situations can emergency contraception pills be used?

Emergency pills can be used in a number of situations following sexual intercourse. These include:

  • When no contraceptive has been used.

  • Sexual assault when the woman was not protected by any effective contraceptive method.

  • When there is concern of possible contraceptive failure, from improper or incorrect use, such as:

condom breakage, slippage, or incorrect use;  

Three or more consecutively missed combined oral contraceptive pill

  • more than 3 hours late from the usual time of intake of the progestogen-only pill (minipill), or more than 27 hours after the previous pill;

  • more than 12 hours late from the usual time of intake of the desogestrel-containing pill (0.75 mg) or more than 36 hours after the previous pill;

  • more than 2 weeks late for the norethisterone enanthate (NET-EN) progestogen-only injection;

  • more than 4 weeks late for the depot-medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA) progestogen-only injection;

  • more than 7 days late for the combined injectable contraceptive (CIC);

  • dislodgment, breakage, tearing, or early removal of a diaphragm or cervical cap;

  • failed withdrawal (e.g. ejaculation in the vagina or on external genitalia);

  • failure of a spermicide tablet or film to melt before intercourse;

  • miscalculation of the abstinence period, or failure to abstain or use a barrier method on the fertile days of the cycle when using fertility awareness based methods; or

  • expulsion of an intrauterine contraceptive device (IUD) or hormonal contraceptive implant.

An advance supply of Emergency pills should be given to a woman to ensure that she can have them available when needed and can take them as soon as possible after unprotected intercourse.

Working of Emergency pills 

Emergency contraceptive pills work by releasing either levonorgestrel or ulipristal acetate into the body. The pill prevents ovulation or the fertilized egg to implant on the walls of the ovary. This process delays the release of an egg or ovulation. Emergency contraception does not interrupt an established pregnancy or harm a developing embryo.

If a woman is over the age of 17 she can buy the emergency pill online or over the counter. If she is under 17 she will need a prescription that she can get from a Planned Parenthood center or a doctor. 

The only way to know whether the emergency pill has worked or not  is to take a pregnancy test three weeks after  having unprotected sex. An estimated 0.6 to 2.6% of women who take the morning after pill after unprotected sex can still get pregnant. However the risk is  considerably reduced. 

Side effects of emergency pills 

The pills do come with their own side-effects. A few of them are listed below:

  • Pills are age specific i.e they are designed for women who are between the age of 25 and 45. Teenagers taking the pill could permanently damage their developing reproductive system so they are advised to use other contraceptive methods instead.

  • Overuse or misuse of emergency pills could alter a woman's menstrual cycles adversely.

  • Continuous usage of emergency pills, could lead to decreased sexual interest and give rise to skin rashes and allergies.

  • Nausea, headache, and vomiting could be some of the side-effects of using emergency contraceptive pills. Apart from these, lower abdominal pains, delayed menstruation, breast tenderness and weight gain could also be seen among women using it. 

  • Emergency pills need to be taken within 48 or 72 hours of having unprotected sex otherwise they won't work. 

  • Most of these side-effects are seen in pills that have high progesterone levels but the modern day pills come in a combination form of estrogen and progesterone, and are supposed to have minimal side-effects. 

Myths related to emergency pills 

Conversations regarding consent, sex and safety have blown wide open over the last few years, but there are still myths and taboo attached to emergency contraception pills. Some of the myths are:

  • Taking it more than once have a negative effect on the body

  • It could stop you from becoming pregnant in the future

  • Emergency pills can make you infertile if you use them too many times

  • It shouldn't be taken more than once in the same cycle 


Emergency pills could be taken by any woman after having unprotected sex within 120 hours. It does have a few side effects but in the long term it does not affect fertility of any woman or cause problems in future pregnancy. It is safe to use and can be easily available in any medical store or online. 


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