Taking back control over your own life

Have you ever had a moment of panic after having unprotected sex or experiencing a contraceptive failure? Maybe the condom broke, or you forgot to take your pill, or you just got carried away in the heat of the moment. Whatever the reason, you may have felt concerned, worried or even guilty about the possibility of an unplanned pregnancy.

You are not alone. Many people have been in similar situations and have shared their stories with us. These stories show how taking emergency contraception can help you take back control over your life by preventing a pregnancy that you are not ready for or do not want.

What is emergency contraception?

Emergency contraception is a way of preventing pregnancy after having unprotected sex or when your regular contraception fails. There are two types of emergency contraception: emergency contraceptive pills (also known as the morning after pill) and the intrauterine device (IUD or coil).

Emergency contraceptive pills can be taken up to 3 days (levonorgestrel) or 5 days (ulipristal acetate) after having unprotected sex. Ulipristal acetate is 2.5x more effective than emergency contraceptive pills containing levonorgestrel.*  Ulipristal acetate helps prevent pregnancy by delaying ovulation, so no egg is released and any sperm which has entered the body will have nothing to fuse with.

*Verify at: https://www.ellaone.co.uk/verify/

The Intrauterine Device (IUD) is a small, non-hormonal T-shaped device that is inserted into your womb by a doctor or nurse. It can be fitted up to 5 days after having unprotected sex. It helps prevent pregnancy by stopping the sperm and egg from surviving in the womb or fallopian tubes.  The IUD is a long-acting reversible contraception, so once it is inserted it can help prevent pregnancy for around 5-10 years and you don’t need to think about it when you have sex.  

Does the morning after pill cause an abortion?

No, emergency hormonal contraceptive pills do not cause an abortion. They help prevent ovulation, so no egg is released, the sperm cannot fuse with anything and therefore no pregnancy can take place. If you have already ovulated, the morning after pill will not terminate or interrupt an existing pregnancy.

Taking emergency contraception can give you peace of mind and help you feel more in control of your body and your choices.  Everyone is different and so people’s experiences with emergency contraception vary. Our morning after stories highlight this diverse range of experiences. Many people who have submitted their stories talk about how they feel emergency contraception helped them take back control over their lives so they could continue to live on their terms.

It was my chance to take back control

Written by: Anonymous

“This may be slightly darker than many of these morning after stories, but it is also really important when we’re talking about breaking the stigma.

I had been in an abusive situation for several months with a flatmate, that eventually culminated in rape. I was in pieces when I went to the police and my friends for help. In situations like that, you have to deal with trauma, but also the worry that you might be pregnant or have an STI. Being able to take the morning after pill helped me out a lot and was one of the first steps I took towards gaining control of my life again.

I remember having mixed feelings about taking the morning after pill, but I realised that it was nothing to be ashamed of – it was my chance to take back control again and to look after myself so I could begin to heal.”

I experienced fear and anxiety

Written by: Anonymous, 17, Texas

This is going to be a long one, but worth the read. I had unprotected sex (I know, I was being a very stupid 17 year old) on March 22nd (exactly a week after my period ended, so I assumed I wasn’t yet at my fertile window). I came home and took the morning after pill within an hour of having sex.

From then till today (April 22), I experienced nothing but fear and anxiety. Especially with the quarantine in place, I have had a LOT of time to overthink and worry about whether I’m pregnant or not. Anyway, a week after taking the pill (March 29), I got my period. But, it was not time for my period, because I just had one 2 weeks back. Also, this period was not normal. I had a heavy flow, but it was very short and went away quickly which is unusual for me.

The morning after pill is a great, effective option for EMERGENCY situations, but never again will I have unprotected sex unless I’m actually trying to get pregnant. If you’re young like me, please don’t be stupid and just use condoms. Condoms cost like $10, but having a kid will cost much much, much, much more. Just be smart about all this. The fear and anxiety you experience is NOT a good trade off for a few minutes of pleasure. I really hope this helps someone, especially a youngster like me.

I used the morning after pill because the condom snapped

Written by Anonymous, 24, Barrow

I used the morning after pill after the condom had snapped.

Really thankful for the morning after pill as the thought of being pregnant by my boyfriend at the time made me realise I didn’t love him.

I’ve taken the morning after pill twice. I didn’t get pregnant

Written by: Anonymous, 33, London

I’ve taken the morning after pill twice. It’s a minefield. But both times it was on my own terms. And I didn’t get pregnant.

These stories show that taking emergency contraception can be a positive and empowering decision for many people. It can help you avoid an unwanted pregnancy and allow you to plan your future as you wish.

I was embarrassed waiting for people to leave the shop

Written by: Camilla, 26, Bristol

It was the middle of the summer and I was 16 years old. It hadn’t been a planned thing, I hadn’t even meant to have sex, but it happened. And I needed to make sure I wasn’t pregnant, as well as not let anyone except my best friend know.

I called my best friend and made her come with me to the local pharmacy in my village that I had been going to since I was very small. I felt a very strange mix of confidence in the face of my friend and an inner nervousness. I knew that there was such a thing as the morning after pill and that I could probably get it relatively easily.

I was embarrassed waiting for people to leave the shop so that I could just speak to the pharmacist more privately. They asked me how old I was and I told them I was 16. I didn’t know what the side effects could be, or how many times one could take it before it starts to affect your fertility. I worried about that a bit, but not enough to stop me taking it. They charged me £36; an irritation I swallowed along with the pill.

I remember wishing that he, the person I had slept with, would pay for some of it (not that that was ever going to happen). I did and would take it again if I needed to. I never really noticed any side effects. Other than general embarrassment, nervousness and bravado to protect myself from the perceived judgement of strangers.

I was a student. I was using condoms and it came off

Kirsten Rummery, 48, Stiring

I took the morning after pill. I was definitely not ready to have a baby and neither was he.

I finished my degree. Now I am a professor and mum to three lovely kids and I have never regretted it for a moment. It let me have the life I chose and wanted, and babies when I was ready.

Fear completely overcame me and I started to panic

Written by: Anonymous, 20, Yorkshire

I was waiting for my time of the month to start so I could have the contraceptive injection, I was already apprehensive about having sex because I didn’t trust the condom at all. But my boyfriend and I were in a happy relationship and he always checked the condom after to make sure it hadn’t failed, but on this occasion it did.

Fear completely overcame me and I started to panic – it would be at least two hours before I could get hold of anything. I had a horrible panic attack, and didn’t go to sleep. I knew where my nearest clinic was and that I would have enough time to get treatment, but all I could think of was the offer I’d just accepted from university and the plans I had for myself; it felt like they were all falling apart.

Being in the clinic was the worst experience for me – I knew I could never go there again. I even saw someone I knew there, but they never said anything. All the staff were compassionate and friendly, and I was given what I asked for.

I decided the best thing to do was to take ellaOne

Written by Anonymous, 25, London

I had gone to my ex’s place to pick up some of my things. I’d left there when we were together.

We’d split because he had been hiding a serious drug problem and was about to enter rehab. We got talking and he persuaded me to give him another chance and we ended up sleeping together. I wasn’t prepared as I was adamant we weren’t going to get back together. We didn’t use any protection.

The next morning I realised how stupid I had been to let him talk me into giving him another chance (he’d already had several), and how it was even more stupid of me to have unsafe sex with him. If I were to have fallen pregnant, what sort of situation would I have been bringing a child into? I had not long graduated from university, my career and life were just starting out.

I decided the best thing to do was to take ellaOne and to walk away from him. The nurse that gave it to me was so understanding of my situation and thoroughly explained the process to me. I’d never taken it before and was very nervous. I was embarrassed to tell my friends but as soon as I did they completely backed me and praised me for doing the right thing. I was so surprised to find out most of my friends had taken it and that they were so up for talking about it in such a casual manner. It made me feel so much better.

Since then I’ve taken it one more time and feel no shame in admitting it. It’s my body, it’s my life, it’s my choice.

Emergency contraception is nothing to be ashamed of

Accidents happen and sometimes people get caught up in the heat of the moment and don’t use contraception. The morning after pill can help you prevent an unplanned pregnancy so you can choose the life you live. Whoever you are and whatever your circumstances, know that your choices are valid, you know what’s best for you, and you deserve to take back control over your life – whatever that looks like for you.

Have you ever taken emergency contraception? If so, share your story below and join the tapestry of women and people with uteruses who are breaking the stigma around the morning after pill.

ellaOne® 30mg film-coated tablet contains ulipristal acetate and is indicated for emergency contraception within 120 hours (5 days) of unprotected sexual intercourse or contraceptive failure. Always read the label.