When Should You Take A Pregnancy Test After Using Emergency Contraception? Here's What You Should Know

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When you've had a birth control failure (or momentary lapse of memory), you may decide to take emergency contraception. After you've taken it, though, what do you do if your period is still a no-show? When should you take a pregnancy test after using emergency contraception? Could your tardy period just be a side effect of the drugs, or did the emergency contraception fail?

Emergency contraception works by employing a high dose of the hormone levonorgestrel, which is found in many typical birth control pills, according to Princeton University. This can do a few things — it can prevent the egg from descending into the fallopian tube, it can prevent the sperm from fertilizing your egg, or it can also impair the ability of a fertilized egg from implanting in the lining of the uterus. This is also true of traditional birth controls, but in much smaller doses, and with regular use, it rarely goes past the first step, according to Go Ask Alice at Columbia University.

Emergency contraception can also have more immediately noticeable side effects than your everyday pill. Abdominal pain, nausea, cramps, vomiting, and bloating are just a few possible reactions to the drug, according to Plan B's website. Your period may also be a wee bit late to the party as well, but how late? When should you take a pregnancy test after emergency contraception?

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According to Princeton University, emergency contraception should be taken within five days of unprotected sex, but, the sooner the better. Most chain drug stores carry it, and some insurance companies cover it under their prescription programs. You have to go to the pharmacy to get it, and laws vary state-to-state on whether or not I.D. is required for purchase.

Princeton University also noted that while your period may be late after taking the morning-after pill, it should still come. If your period is more than a week late, you can take a pregnancy test, and the results should be accurate. If you are pregnant, and worried about possible birth defects caused by your emergency contraception, don't be. According to the Journal of Paediatric and Child Health, there is no link between the morning-after pill and an increased risk of birth defects.

Remember, the morning-after pill does not have a 100 percent success rate, and it's not meant to be used as routine birth control, so make sure you maintain safer sex practices in order to prevent further scares. If you find you are pregnant, immediately call your OB-GYN to discuss what you'll do moving forward.