Healthy Beginnings

The “Morning After Pill” and “Abortion Pill”: The Difference.

The morning after pill and the abortion pill are often confused; neither title provides accurate information, which compounds the confusion. The morning after pill misnomer comes from the fact it is effective for up to five days after unprotected intercourse. So really, we could call it “the morning after, and the morning after that and the morning…” pill. You can see how that would be ridiculous. It is an emergency contraception.

Emergency Contraception (EC) safely and effectively prevents pregnancy if taken no more than 120 hours after unprotected intercourse; it’s more effective the earlier it is used. EC is to birth control that orange juice concentrate is to orange juice–it’s a mega dose. It works the same way–it prevents the egg from being released or fertilized. Most women, even those who typically don’t use oral contraceptives, can use EC for pregnancy prevention.

Uses for Emergency contraception include:

• When no birth control method was used

• The condom broke

• If you missed two or more pills in a cycle, started the cycle late or missed your birth control shot

• If the diaphragm slipped

• If you were forced to have sex

Some may experience side effects such as nausea, breast tenderness or headaches. If there are any side effects, they usually last about a day. The timing of a woman’s period can be off, either early or late, after taking emergency contraception. Emergency contraception neither impacts a woman’s ability to get pregnant in the future nor does it terminate a pregnancy. If you are already pregnant, emergency contraception is too late.

The abortion pill refers to medication abortion, which can end a pregnancy up to nine weeks after the first period is missed. It’s not just a pill. Medication abortion involves a patient/provider discussion about options and medical history, a medical exam and usually a test, including an ultra sound and two pills. The first pill stops progesterone and breaks down the uterine lining; the second pill causes the uterus to empty. A medication abortion is like a miscarriage, so cramps and bleeding are common. Other effects may be dizziness, nausea or vomiting, mild fever or chills. A follow-up visit is required to assure the procedure is completed.





For more info, contact Planned Parenthood Mar Monte at (775) 688-5555, or (775) 829-1122 or visit online at