Let's Talk About Emergency Contraception

Let’s talk about sex, and contraception, and what you should do when your contraception plan doesn’t quite work out.

This blog post is written in collaboration with ellaOne in support of their Morning After Manners campaign, and I’m proud to have been given a chance to participate and help empower and educate people so that they feel like they can talk about contraception and emergency contraception with a partner. I really believe that it’s important for people to understand their options enough to comfortably make the best choice for themselves.

You can visit the Morning After Manners website for more information, and to take the quiz to test your own morning-after etiquette.

After taking the quiz, I got the Morning After Master score, which I’m very happy with! I’ve always been quite mindful of approaching sex with respect and honesty, and I think it’s important that we maintain that level of courtesy for the other person.

You certainly don’t have to sit and make small talk in the morning if you don’t want to, but you don’t have to rudely kick the other person out of your home or sneak out of theirs before they wake up.

There is so much stigma around the morning after pill, and I feel it too! Although I film all kinds of sex-positive videos and frequently tell my viewers about my embarrassing sex stories, I’ve never actually spoken about my experience with it.

There’s still a lot of judgement surrounding emergency contraception and I didn’t want to expose myself to people’s opinions and misconceptions.
About two years ago, I was in the early stages of a new relationship and I wasn’t on any hormonal contraception. We were just using condoms at the time and the condom split, but we didn’t actually realize until it was too late.

My experience was unnecessarily stressful because I didn’t know how to approach the conversation. I knew about the morning after pill, but I had no idea what my options were or how to even have that conversation with the guy I was seeing.

This was the same guy who thought the pill protected you both against STDs, so I wasn’t confident that he’d have understood emergency contraception. There is a huge lack of education, which only makes things more awkward and complicated.

I did a quick Google search, walked to my local pharmacy and got it over the counter.

My experience shouldn’t have had to be like that. I should’ve been able to have a normal conversation with the boy I was seeing. I should have been educated enough about the morning after pill to know what to do without having to look it up online, and I definitely should not have been too embarrassed to talk to people about it.

Whether you’re single, in a new relationship or in a long-term commitment, accidents can happen, and your preferred method of contraception can fail. Knowing about emergency contraception is important so that you know what your back-up options are, and so that you can have an easy conversation with your partner without either of you freaking out.

Recent research carried out by ellaOne reveals that seven in ten (69%) of 17-35 year olds surveyed agree that the responsibility of emergency contraception should lie with both parties. (1)

On top of that, nearly half of the men surveyed (47%) said that they’d go with their sexual partner after a first date to get emergency contraception if needed. (i)

Emergency contraception needs to be right for you and your situation, and you need to be making informed decisions. You need to know your options, so here they are:

Option 1 - The morning after pill

I think we’ve all, at some point, heard about the morning after pill. At least I hope so.

There are two types of morning after pill available - one type contains ulipristal acetate (ellaOne) and has to be taken within 120 hours (5 days) of unprotected sex. (2)

ellaOne is the most effective morning after pill available. (3) The other contains levonorgestrel and has to be taken within 72 hours (3 days) of unprotected sex occurring. (4)

You can get the morning after pill over the counter at the pharmacy without prescription. You can also order it online, which is super convenient if you’re in a situation where that suits you better.

However, and I didn’t know this, the morning after pill only works if you take it before you’ve ovulated...

Morning after pills work by delaying ovulation (when your egg is released), if it hasn’t already happened. This means that the sperm waiting in the fallopian tubes will be unable to meet an egg and fertilise it, which is similar to regular contraceptive pills. Those also work by preventing egg release.

This is why morning after pill is most effective when taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex. (ii.iii)

Option 2 - The IUD, otherwise known as the copper coil

This is another thing I didn’t know - I had no idea that the coil could be used as emergency contraception.

The coil can be inserted up to 5 days after you’ve had unprotected sex and is considered to be the most effective method of emergency contraception overall. (5) Obviously, if you choose to go with the coil, you should still go and get it fitted as soon as possible after you’ve had unprotected sex.

The copper IUD is available from contraception clinics, sexual health clinics and GP surgeries. You will need to schedule a consultation and an insertion appointment, so make sure you do this as soon as possible. It’s also always worth consulting your pharmacist about the morning after pill while waiting for your appointment. In the event of a delay or if you change your mind, you should still have reduced your risk of pregnancy.

This method works by releasing copper into your womb, which alters the cervical mucus and makes it more difficult for sperm to reach an egg and survive. It can also stop a fertilised egg from being able to implant itself, thus preventing pregnancy.

Make it right for you

Emergency contraception is exactly that - it’s to be used in an emergency. No matter who you are or what your situation is, accidents can happen. Unfortunately, the majority of us didn’t get thoroughly taught about it in school, so there still are many misconceptions that leave people feeling embarrassed, ashamed and scared to ask the important questions when they need to.

This lack of awareness is why it’s important to go out of our way to be informed and to have the knowledge we need in order to make smart and responsible choices.

People nowadays still often confuse taking morning after pill with getting an abortion. It’s important to know that emergency contraception has nothing to do with abortion. The morning after pill, or the coil, are used to prevent you from getting pregnant, not to end a pregnancy.

We shouldn’t feel any shame for having sex and enjoying a healthy sex life. Sexual encounters put you at your most vulnerable with another person, and you should feel comfortable talking to them about the sex that you’re having. Being open and honest about your contraception and your plan in case something goes wrong helps you feel comfortable in the unlikelihood that you might need it.

Morning After Manners is about opening up the discussion about 21st-century dating etiquette. We want to break down the stigma associated with emergency contraception and to educate and empower people so that they understand their options enough to comfortably make the best choice for themselves.

Please remember that I’m not a medical professional and I can’t give you any medical advice. If you do have any concerns or questions about emergency contraception, please speak to a pharmacist or a doctor.

* ellaOne® 30mg tablet contains ulipristal acetate and is indicated for emergency contraception for unprotected sexual intercourse or contraceptive failure. Always read the label.

* This blog post was kindly sponsored.

1) ellaOne consumer research, conducted by Censuswide, Last Accessed July 2018

2) Electronic Medicines Compendium (eMC): ellaOne 30 mg. Summary of Product Characteristics. (Last accessed: July 2018)

3) Glasier AF, Cameron ST, Fine PM et al. The Lancet 2010; 375: 555-562

4) Levonorgestrel Summary of Product Characteristics. (Last accessed: July 2018)

5) https://www.fpa.org.uk/sites/default/files/emergency-contraception-your-guide.pdf (Last accessed: July 2018)


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