In today's world, an essential part of being economically and emotionally stable is family planning. Every year, 3 million women have unintended pregnancies either because they skipped contraception or used it improperly.
If you dread having to make the difficult, life-altering decisions that come with an unplanned pregnancy and family planning is, indeed, important for you, it’s not too late—there are “morning after” and now even “week after” emergency contraceptives.
Here are seven things to consider after having unprotected sex, including your options in terms of emergency contraceptives.
What not to do: One thing you shouldn’t do after unprotected sex is to try douching. Douching will not increase the risk of pregnancy, but it may increase the risk of pelvic infections.Douching, in general, is a bad idea. The normal balance of yeast and bacteria in the reproductive tract is disturbed due to douching, which could lead to an infection.
Birth Control Pills: Use birth control pills as an emergency contraceptive. If taken within three days (the sooner the better) of having unprotected sex, the birth control pills can prevent ovulation and fertilization. Side effects can include nausea, tiredness, headache, and breast tenderness.
Get STD tests:There’s little you can do to prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STD) after the fact, but you can still treat and manage them.
Experts recommend getting tested for gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, HIV, and hepatitis B and C virus within a couple of weeks of unprotected sex. If the HIV and hepatitis results are negative, you’ll need to get retested in another six months to be absolutely sure.
If you think you’ve been exposed to HIV, you can take a prophylactic course of antiretrovirals. However, this is generally reserved for high-risk scenarios (for example, a health-care worker stuck with a needle or a rape victim). Make sure that you follow up on your STD tests to find out the results.
Monitor for pregnancy:Taking morning-after pills doesn’t guarantee that you won’t get pregnant. That means if family planning is important for you, you’ll still need to keep an eye on things, bearing in mind that a morning-after pill can cause spotting and your period flow might get altered, which can make it hard to figure whether you are pregnant or not. If your period is more than a week late, take a pregnancy test.
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