All pharmacists are required to stock Plan B or emergency contraception tablets, also known as the ‘morning-after’ pill. While it is called morning after, in fact it is effective for 12 hours after intercourse.
Any male or female over the age of 18 is eligible to buy Plan B across the counter and without a prescription. Anyone below the age of 18 should be referred to a health care provider for a prescription.
The Plan B pill is used to prevent an unwanted pregnancy after unprotected sex. It works by preventing ovulation or fertilization or both. As the name suggests, it is an emergency measure and intended for use only when needed.
These pills essentially contain larger doses of estrogen and progestin, the same hormones that are the active ingredients in normal birth control pills or oral contraceptives. The most common and more effective type of emergency pill is the progestin only kind which is available in most countries. The other is the Yupze regimen which is a combination of both hormones. They both act by giving the body high bursts of synthetic hormones that disrupt the typical hormonal pattern necessary for pregnancy. The pills work on the uterine lining and the ovaries inhibiting pregnancy. The action depends on the time of the menstrual cycle the pill is taken. The working is in three ways:
- Ovulation is stopped by preventing the egg from moving into the fallopian tube.
- Hormones necessary for fertilization are blocked
- Sperm could be prevented from meeting the egg. This is achieved by affecting the lining of the uterus and this interfering with the transportation of sperm
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