Sign In
  • ENG

World Contraception Day 2017: Can you have an emergency contraceptive pill if you miss a dose of birth control pills?

Emergency contraceptives may end up doing more damage than you can imagine.

Written by Sandhya Raghavan |Published : September 25, 2017 5:12 PM IST

So you've run out of your oral contraceptive pills (OCP). You've missed your dose and you've just had sex. Should you pop an emergency contraceptive soon after as a preventive measure? After all, they do the same thing right? They prevent pregnancies. Sounds logical but are experts on your side? Afraid not; emergency contraceptives are too dangerous to be trifled with.

The morning-after pill, otherwise known as the emergency contraceptive pill or ECP, stormed the markets a few years ago and has changed the way women view contraception. Earlier, the only means of protection for women was condoms and a steady stream of hormones from their OCPs that kept them safe from the risk of unwanted pregnancies. But both are not meant for the reckless and required discipline. That's when emergency pills came into the market and changed the game. And thanks to the tiny pill, coital "accidents" don't seem much of a nightmare. Within 72 hours of the unprotected sexual activity, a woman could pop the pill and prevent pregnancy.

But the boon came with its baggage -- ECP abuse. Gynaecologists all over the country found a spike in the use of ECP among young women. More worryingly, some women have been using it not as a backup but as the primary method of contraception. Instances of "barebacking" or having sex without the condom, is also gaining popularity among women, who quickly pop the pill and go on with their lives. Not surprisingly, gynaecological complaints are rising, with women queuing outside the doctor's office with a variety of problems such as ovarian cysts, irregular periods and hormonal problems.

Also Read

More News

(Read: What happens if I overdose on emergency contraceptives? Query)

Women try supplementing their OCPs with ECPs, just to be sure. Some who have exhausted their birth control pill supply resort to making up for the same by taking ECP instead after having sex. But is this really necessary? No say, experts. Dr Sudha Tandon, gynaecologist and infertility specialist, says, "When a woman is already on OCPs suggested by her gynaec, she need not take emergency contraceptives at all. The practice is dangerous since already we are dealing with misuse of ECPs. They can mess with their period cycle and, in some cases, also fail to prevent pregnancies."

(Read: How often is it safe to use emergency contraceptive pills? (Query))

Dr Maya Lulla, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, also seconds what Dr Tandon said and warns against the use of the indiscriminate ECPs. "When the woman is on oral contraceptives, the hormones, progestin and oestrogen, stop the ovulation process. So even if she has sexual intercourse, there is no chance of pregnancy. So there is no need for ECPs," she says.

In cases of missed OCP doses, Dr Lulla recommends taking a double dose the next day. There is no need to take ECP. "But if she has missed OCP for three days, she can take an emergency contraceptive after sex" she adds.

Image source: Shutterstock

Total Wellness is now just a click away.

Follow us on