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How Effective is the Morning After Pill?

It's worth $50 and its protection is priceless, but really, how effective is the morning after pill?

The "morning after pill" has become one of the most controversial forms of birth control, primarily because it's been called both ineffective and a form of abortion. However, anyone who's really researched reproductive health can tell you that the morning after pill does not cause abortions, nor is it totally ineffective. 

Most people who use the morning after pill are just happy to have emergency contraception available to them. But, how effective is the morning pill, really? Well, depending on when you take it, it may not be that effective at all. 

Here's the scoop on the morning after pill's ability to reduce the chances of pregnancy, and what ladies need to know. 

The "morning after pill" cannot abort a fetus.

The bulk of controversies surrounding the morning after pill deal with a misunderstanding on how the morning after pill works. The fact is that right-wing politicians lied about its function, which they claimed can kill an unborn child and accused it of being an abortion pill.

The fact is that the most morning after pills can do is prevent a fertilized egg from implanting—and evidence of that is still shaky at best. The crux of the matter is that morning after pills are meant to prevent eggs from being fertilized or delay ovulation, and that's it. 

So, how effective is the morning after pill at abortion? Not effective at all. It's designed for pregnancy prevention, not an abortion, and behaves as such. 

How effective the morning after pill is will depend on the time you take it.

When taken right after sex or within 24 hours of sex, the morning after pill can be as high as 95 percent effective. This means that, of 100 pregnancies that would have happened, only 5 will. This is true of pills like Plan B One-Step and other one-shot pills. 

The longer you wait to use the morning after pill, the more likely it is that the contraception will fail. By 72 hours in, the pill will only be 89 percent effective, and that's assuming the best possible situation. 

Many pills are not as effective as Plan B, so it also can depend on the specific formulation of the emergency contraception that you're getting. It's also worth repeating that the morning after pill will not be able to do much if an egg has been fertilized by the time you take it. 

That being said, the effectivness of the morning after pill will also end up being based on a couple of other factors.

The fact is that there are a lot of different issues that will affect how well the morning after pill works. Much of it deals with timing, and not just the days after unprotected sex and you taking it. 

If you're ovulating already, then the morning after pill will not be able to do as much as it would if you were literally just about to start. However, it may still be able to prevent implantation, which would make it still far more effective than having no contraception at all. 

In addition to timing, there's also some evidence that suggests that morning after pills will not work as well with women who have a high BMI. This would make sense since height and weight can seriously affect a person's reaction to medications. That being said, no official evidence suggests this to be the case. 

Also, you may want to check to see the official efficacy of the pill you're taking. Different formulations will mean different efficacy rates. 

However, if you're wondering how effective the morning after pill is, you're probably better off with an IUD.

Copper IUDs work as emergency contraception and also have been proven to be 99 percent effective at preventing pregnancy both in the long and short-term. They are great birth control, and you can get them at your local Planned Parenthood

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