What is emergency contraception?
The morning-after pill is an emergency contraceptive that is used to avoid becoming pregnant after unprotected or poorly protected sex. In general, it is taken after forgetting to take the pill, after a condom break, or when you have not protected yourself. There are two types: levonorgestrel, which can be used between 0 and 3 days after unprotected sex, and ulipristal acetate, which can be used up to 5 days after unprotected sex. The earlier you take the pill, the more effective it is: taken within 24 hours of unprotected sex, its effectiveness is 95%, then it drops to 85% on the second day, and finally to 58% if taken between 48 and 72 hours. It is therefore preferable to take it as soon as possible. In both cases, they are not 100% effective against unwanted pregnancy.
How does the morning-after pill work?
The morning-after pill is not an abortifacient drug (which triggers an abortion), it only prevents the fertilization of the egg by a spermatozoon. Once the egg is fertilized, the morning-after pill is ineffective. It is the hormone (levonorgestrel for the first and ulipristal acetate for the second) present in the pill that will block the growth of the ovarian follicle and thus delay the moment of ovulation.
Does the morning-after pill cause any side effects?
Like many drugs, the morning-after pill can cause side effects such as nausea (if you vomit within 3 hours after taking the pill, you must take another one because it will not be well absorbed), pain in the lower abdomen, bleeding that is not a period (in this case, menstrual panties can be a solution), but also a disturbance of the menstrual cycle. In fact, the morning-after pill blocks the ovarian follicle and therefore ovulation, which can delay the next cycles.
How to obtain the morning-after pill?
Any person can obtain emergency contraception:
You can get the morning-after pill free of charge if you have a medical prescription from your gynecologist, midwife or doctor for example. This will be reimbursed with your "carte vitale".
For minors, the morning-after pill is free and can be distributed anonymously. It can also be another person who comes to collect the morning-after pill for you, however, it is preferable that the person concerned goes herself because she benefits from precise advice and important information that can be badly relayed if it is someone else who comes to collect it. Do not hesitate to consult or ask a health professional if you have any questions.
A very important point to note: the morning-after pill remains an emergency contraception, it should not be taken systematically and it does not protect against infections and sexually transmitted diseases! Therefore, in case of unprotected sexual intercourse, it is important to go for an STI/STD test.
The morning-after pill is available without a medical prescription for everyone. It is free for adults without social security coverage and for minors. Emergency contraception can be delivered anonymously and free of charge.
Where can I get the morning-after pill?
The school nurse can deliver the morning-after pill as emergency contraception to a minor. It will be free of charge.
Emergency contraception is available in pharmacies: the cost of the morning-after pill with levonorgestrel is between 3 and 7 €. By ulipristal is less than 20 €.
The morning-after pill is available in family education centers, in a CEGIDD in planning or family education centers (CPEF), Free Center for Information, Screening and Diagnosis of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), hepatitis and sexually transmitted infections.