Even if our country has already implemented the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health (RH) law where women are given access to more birth control, Plan B (aka the "morning-after" pill) is still not available in the Philippines. So, what do you do if you're looking for emergency contraception? Cosmopolitan asked Dr. Mae Syki-Young to share some options. Keep reading for a few emergency contraception methods you need to know about—how they work, the effects they have on your body, and more.
Emergency contraception: Yuzpe Method
According to Dr. Syki-Young, "Yuzpe method or Yuzpe regimen is defined as using everyday birth control pills as an emergency contraception." These oral contraceptive pills are available in local drugstores, but it's important that you do not self medicate! Consult your OB-GYN first and they'll prescribe you with the proper dosage and interval.
Heads up! Dr. Syki-Young warned that "recurrent use of [the] Yuzpe method especially more than once a month or repeated use in a short interval can cause disruption of your regular periods." These birth control pills are hormones and ideally, should not be used to disrupt your regular cycle as much as possible. If you're after long term contraception, she suggested that it's better to take oral contraceptive pills regularly. "Aside from preventing pregnancy, it can regularize your period and decrease side effects."
Emergency Contraception: Oral Contraceptive Pills
If the condom broke while you and your partner were having sex or if there's a delay in your birth control shot, Dr. Syki-Young advised that your OB-GYN can also prescribe certain oral contraceptive pills that will have the same effect as Plan B. She said, "Ideally you should see your doctor within 72 hours from unprotected [sex] to have a more effective contraception."
It's also important to remember that oral contraceptive pills are composed of hormones. "These hormones are usually in low dose to minimize side effects and for better compliance. Hence, increasing amount of hormones taken can increase [chances] of unwanted effects. Oral contraceptive pills when taken correctly cannot cause overdose." If you take one to two more pills on the same day, this will most likely cause disruption in your regular period. According to Dr. Syki-Young, "It can delay or advance the onset of your next period, cause irregular bleeding, or breakthrough bleeding. More side effects like nausea, vomiting, and headaches can also be expected."
Emergency Contraception: Intrauterine Device (IUD)
Another method that you can consider is the intrauterine device or IUD, where a small T-shaped object is inserted into your uterus to prevent pregnancy. ICYDK, there are two types of IUDs: copper IUDs and hormonal IUDs. Copper IUDs contain copper that alters the cervical mucus and can stop a fertilized egg from implanting itself. These IUDs are normally longer-lasting and can work up to 10 or even 12 years. On the other hand, hormonal IUDs release the hormone progestin. This thickens the cervical mucus, which blocks and traps the sperm, preventing it from fertilizing the egg, and may also prevent ovulation. These types of IUDs often last anywhere from three to seven years.
Though it's a very effective method of emergency contraception since the indication is the same as Plan B., an IUD isn't as popular as oral contraceptive pills because it is invasive and can cause discomfort. According to Dr. Syki-Young, "It can be inserted within five days of unprotected intercourse, [but] it is important to make sure that the woman is not already pregnant at the time of insertion. It is particularly useful in women wherein oral contraceptive pills (as emergency contraception) are not an option."
Aside from preventing implantation, an IUD also "prevents fertilization by causing chemical changes in sperm and egg before they meet." If you prefer a "long term and reversible contraceptive method," this device might be the right one for you. But as always, make sure to have an open discussion with your doctor so that they can properly determine which method would be best for you.
Dr. Mae Syki-Young is a consultant of Makati Medical Center and St. Luke's Medical Center, Bonifacio Global Center; Fellow of Philippine Obstetrics and Gynecology Society (POGS); Member of Philippine Society of Gynecologic Endoscopy (PSGE); Member of Aesthetic Gynecology Society of the Philippines (AGSPI). You can also follow her on Instagram and Facebook.
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