Pregnancy results from a specific sequence of events. A woman becomes pregnant when the sperm from her male partner fuses with an ovum (egg) released in her ovary post ejaculation during copulation. Contraceptives are used to prevent this interaction in a number of ways.
But if the ovum is fertilized, it implants itself in the uterus lining of the woman to gain nourishment and grow. Pregnancy is thus established and now requires abortion.
But here’s why you are confused
Contraceptives are often believed to terminate pregnancy resulting from unprotected sexual intercourse while that is not the case!
The confusion stems from the question of whether or not contraceptives interfere with the implantation of the fertilized egg. Although research now shows that drugs in this category are not known to do so, the FDA once labelled them as “may inhibit implantation”.
The term morning-pills or morning-after pills for contraceptives can also be quite misleading because they are to be taken as quickly as possible after intercourse. It does work with appreciable efficiency upto 72 hrs and can also be taken after up to 5 days post sexual contact.
Contraceptives are majorly hormonal pills that inhibit the regular cyclical hormones in the body to prevent fertilization. It either prevents ovulation itself or alters the cervical mucus blocking the entry of the sperm.
On the other hand, medication for abortion includes two main components; mifepristone and misoprostol. The former is an anti-progestin that acts against progesterone preventing the sustenance of pregnancy. It also alters the uterus lining and initiates uterine contractions. The latter works to soften the cervix and enhances contraction to finally expel the contents of conception.
- Emergency contraceptives: Plan B, Ella, etc are some choices
- Abortion pills: Different combinations of mifepristone and misoprostol.
Both kinds of medications have been proven safe and are available in generic forms too. Medical termination of pregnancy is non-invasive and can even be preferred over surgery if you learn about your conception early on.
- Side effects
Any hormonal changes in the body are bound to affect it. Side-effects from contraception can be prevented by having pills with food. But nausea, bleeding and cramps guarantee the working of abortive drugs and should be expected.
Severe complications do happen with both but are rare if precautionary measures are taken.
When to use a contraceptive:
Emergency contraception can help if your regular contraceptive methods fail; like if the condom tears during intercourse or you forgot to take one or more of your birth control pills. Emergency contraceptives should be able to prevent unwanted pregnancy before it happens. It is also used in case of sexual assaults without contraception coverage.
When to use an abortion pill:
You will need this if you miss your periods or they are late by 5 days or more from when it was expected
Abortion while maintaining the health of the patient is necessary. Make sure you aren’t allergic to these drugs, do not have an ectopic pregnancy and the fetus is viable. This medication is only advisable if you are up to 70 days (10 weeks) pregnant.