I could present a lecture on the dangers of unprotected sex, but we know it happens – perhaps more regularly than anyone cares to admit to – and that’s why everyone should know the ways to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. I am not talking about a regular form of contraception but the options available for dealing with unprotected sex after a one-night stand or a drunken incident or a lapse in judgment. It’s so easy to go into panic mode or to ignore the problem until it is too late to do anything about it, but be aware of the ways to prevent an unwanted pregnancy and take action. BUT, please, do not see these as a cop out and an excuse that it’s ok to have unprotected sex because there’s a remedy easily available.
1. Plan B
To prevent an unwanted pregnancy, Plan B emergency contraceptive is one of your best options as well as being one of the most popular. The pill is designed to prevent fertilization and ovulation after having unprotected sex. However, it needs to be taken within three days after you have unprotected sex (but sooner is better than later). You do not need a prescription to purchase it if you are older than seventeen. Otherwise, you are required to get one from your doctor. It is also not cheap and can cost as low as ten dollars and as high as seventy dollars depending on where you get it. Plan B is one of your best options after unprotected sex.
The FDA approved this emergency contraceptive in 2010. It is very similar to Plan B, but you have up to five days after unprotected sex to use it. Like Plan B, however, it can have side effects including nausea, fatigue, dizziness and headaches. Unlike other emergency contraceptives, you will need a prescription in order to get Ella.
3. Copper IUD
One of the non-medication ways to prevent an unwanted pregnancy is to use a copper IUD that a doctor needs to insert within five days after having unprotected sex. Its effectiveness is said to last up to ten years once it is properly placed inside you. The theory is that the IUD repels sperm and increases cervical mucus. However, this is a more costly option, ranging from five hundred dollars to one thousand dollars, and it may not be covered by your health insurance.
4. Get a Pregnancy Test
While you will not know right away after having unprotected sex if you are pregnant, you can keep a close eye on your menstrual cycle for any irregularities. If you are at least a week late or longer from getting your period, you should take a pregnancy test immediately to see if you are in fact pregnant. If the pregnancy test comes back positive for being pregnant, you will then need to explore your options.
5. Next Choice
This over-the-counter emergency contraceptive should be taken within three days after having unprotected sex. It contains levonorgestrel and works just like Plan B. Keep in mind that if you are younger than seventeen years, you will need a prescription for Next Choice. One of the biggest side effects experienced by women who used Next Choice is heavier menstrual bleeding followed by nausea, lower abdominal pain and fatigue.
6. Birth Control Pills
If you are not already using birth control pill to prevent an unwanted pregnancy, you may want to consider it as one of your options after unprotected sex. If it happened once, it can happen again. You will need to speak with your doctor as there is a specific dosage that is required in order to protect yourself from getting pregnant. The requirement may be to take anywhere from two to five pills at once to avoid pregnancy. Your doctor will be able to tell you what the proper dosage is to prevent a pregnancy.
7. My Way
This emergency contraceptive pill works similarly to Plan B, Ella and Next Choice, yet is only available to women over the age of seventeen without a prescription. Younger women will need a script from their doctor. The pill is most effective when taken within three days of having unprotected sex. However, research has shown that it can be taken within five days. But like the other emergency contraceptive pills, the sooner you take it, the better. It also has many of the same side effects of other pills, including headache, nausea and dizziness.
They can never replace contraception but it is good to know that women have ways to prevent an unwanted pregnancy in the event of unprotected sex. Have you ever found yourself in the situation of needing to explore your options?