Ever wondered how a morning after pill works to stop pregnancy? Here's how

BTW, ladies, P2 inafaa kumezwa a maximum of 3 times a year

Woman taking meds (Courtesy)

Many are the times a majority of us have found ourselves in a situation where we had to take an emergency pill, also known as a morning after pill, ECP (emergency contraceptive pill) or simply here in Kenya, as P2.

People take emergency pills when their chosen method of birth control fails, or is not used at all, when you have unprotected sex or when a condom breaks. It’s not uncommon to find women and even men wanting to prevent unplanned or unwanted pregnancies and to be honest, there’s no shame in that. A child is a huge responsibility and if one is not ready to raise a kid, might as well prevent it in due time, hence the emergency pill.

It’s important to note that morning after pills should not be taken so often, in fact, it’s advisable to only take them a maximum of 3 times a year, as opposed to every other Friday, ladies! That’s why it’s an emergency pill – only for emergencies and so you should avoid oops moments like having unprotected sex or very rough sex with no lubrication and if you’re in a serious relationship, get a birth control method that’s suitable for you.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about what actually happens when you swallow an e-pill. Ever wondered how it actually works? Perhaps not. Well, today is a good day to educate yourself on this tiny but uber helpful pill.

So, you have had sex, the guy cums in you…if you do not take an e-pill and you’re not on birth control, chances of getting preggers are high.

Now, to avoid getting pregnant, normally, you take an emergency pill within 3 to 5 days although it’s much more effective taken as soon as possible. The reason why you can actually take the pill a bit later is because sperm can survive for up to 7 days in a woman’s body, just waiting for an egg. But, to reiterate, the sooner you take the pill, the more effective it will be.

What happens next after you swallow the pill?

Here’s the thing, if you ovulate during this time, an egg gets released from the ovary, increasing the chances of meeting a sperm which will fertilize it and cause pregnancy. However, the emergency pill prevents ovulation from happening in the first place! If taken before ovulation, the emergency pill active ingredient, levonorgestrel which is a synthetic hormone will halt the ovulation process and basically, an egg will not be released and will simply sit dormant in the ovary. Which means, no egg, no fertilization and no pregnancy.

What if ovulation has already occurred prior to taking the pill?

If ovulation has already occurred, the synthetic hormone, levonorgestrel works to thicken cervical mucus which traps the sperms and prevents them from reaching the released egg. Which means, if the sperm cannot reach the egg then there can no be fertilization and no pregnancy.

Now that you know what happens when you take the pill, it’s important to point out that these pills do not cause abortion because, well, they actually prevent fertilization from taking place, and, you cannot have an abortion without being pregnant in the first place right?

It’s also important to note that emergency pills can cause some side effects such as:

Nausea and vomiting



Bleeding between periods


Lower abdominal pain

Lastly, note that these emergency pills are not 100% effective albeit, they do have a 98% success rate and no, they do not prevent STDs so again, ensure you’re having safe sex!


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