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Can Excess Morning Pill Consumption Impact Fertility?

Morning pills are not as effective as regular contraceptive methods and they do not provide protection against sexually transmitted disease.

Written by Editorial Team |Updated : January 21, 2022 11:28 AM IST

Morning pills or emergency contraception are a safe option when you are not using regular birth control methods. However, there are so many myths about them that it is natural to feel wary about using the pills too often. Will they affect your body negatively, what are the side effects, and most importantly will they impact your fertility and reduce your chances of getting pregnant?

The short answer? No. Morning pills do not have an adverse effect on fertility, and they do not reduce your chances of conception. However, it is important to be informed about how they work and when should they be taken.

When should morning pills be taken?

To achieve maximum effectiveness, these pills need to be taken as soon as possible after the unprotected sex, ideally within 72 hours.

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Though they are useful, it should be noted that morning pills should be treated as a backup and not as the go-to method for birth control. They can be taken to prevent pregnancy in case of unprotected sex, or you miss to take your birth control pill or when your method of birth control has failed. The reason doctors do not recommend it to be used often is because they are not as effective as regular contraceptive methods. Moreover, they do not provide protection against sexually transmitted disease. But in case of emergencies, you can take these pills without worrying about your fertility.

How do they work?

You do not get pregnant right after having sex. Sperm can live inside a woman's body for up to five days after sex. In case she ovulates (release of an egg from the ovary) during that time, the sperm then meets the egg, resulting in pregnancy.

Morning pills stop the release of the egg from the ovary; therefore, the pregnancy will not occur. The effectiveness of the pill decreases, the closer you get to ovulation. Therefore, timing is crucial, and it is beneficial to take the pill as soon as possible to prevent release of the egg. You can take the pill on any day of your cycle.

How often can you take them? Are there any side effects?

It is safe to take them multiple times but there are certain side effects of these pills one should know. They delay ovulation, thereby causing irregular menstrual cycles. Another reason these pills are not recommended is that women would expose themselves to higher levels of hormones than they would through regular birth control methods.

Some other side effects include.

  • Gastrointestinal symptoms like nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Tender breasts for a short period
  • Headache

In case you are sick or throw up within 2 hours after taking the pill, you should seek medical attention as the pill might become ineffective or must be taken again.

There are chances that the pills might not be effective for women who are obese with BMI greater than 30. In such cases, it is better to talk to your doctor before relying on an emergency contraception.

If you want to know whether the emergency pill has worked or not, you can take a pregnancy test three weeks after unprotected intercourse. However, a small percentage of women will still get pregnant after taking the pill. It is better to rely on regular methods of birth control and use morning pills only in cases of an emergency.

Nevertheless, emergency contraceptives have protected countless women from unwanted pregnancies. There is a need for greater awareness about their uses as many women still have certain misconceptions about their safety and their effect on fertility. These myths can only be busted by knowledge dissemination.

It is advisable to consult your doctor before taking them and again, it cannot be stressed enough, that it is always better to go with regular contraceptives.

The article has been contributed by Dr. Hima Deepthi, Fertility Consultant, Nova IVF Fertility, Hyderabad.

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