Good news in the fight to prevent unplanned pregnancies. New research suggests that levonorgestrel, the hormone used in the morning after pill, may be safe for non-emergency use.
A new report published by the Journal Obstetrics and Gynecology found that women who used the morning after pill around the time they had sex had only a 5% chance of getting pregnant, compared to 16% chance for women whose partners used condoms.
Although the morning after isn’t quite as effective as using continual birth control methods such as pills or patches, women who do not have sex frequently and who do not want to be on continuous hormone-based birth control can benefit from taking the morning after pill either before or after sex.
Of the 8400 participants testing the effectiveness of the morning after pill as a regular birth control method, only 267 became pregnant. For most of the studies, women took only half the levonorgestrel currently prescribed in the morning after pill and experienced mild side effects such as spotting and irregular bleeding between cycles.
According to Reuters, “levonorgestrel works by stopping ovulation, and it’s also found in some traditional birth control pills. According to the new study, it’s used by some women in Africa and Asia as a planned method of birth control, instead of an emergency backup.”
Despite being an acceptable use of regular birth control, the morning after pill may have a hard time shaking its reputation of just being used for emergencies. Even though it carries a low price tag (about $10-$17), and is currently available for over the counter use for people over 17, many stores including Walgreens don’t (or won’t) carry it. Furthermore, the government still discourages its use as a regular contraceptive.
But knowledge is power. And knowing that there are more options available for women to control our reproductive health is definitely a good thing.
What do you think? Would you use the morning after pill as a regular form of birth control?