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Oak Park Community Pharmacy

The "Morning After Pill"

The "Morning After Pill"
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Patients are able to purchase emergency contraception from Ontario pharmacists, without a prescription, if they cannot see their doctor (or a walk-in doctor) immediately.
However, it is still best to see a physician and get a prescription written for it.
Some pharmacists may not sell "Plan B" due to moral or religious beliefs.
Some physicians do not prescribe birth control pills or "Plan B" due to moral or religious beliefs.

The only product available OTC for emergency contraception is "Plan B" ( Any reference to emergency contraception or the "morning after pill" on this page refers only to Plan B. Futhermore, all information on this page refers to a single treatment with Plan B. Multiple or frequent use of Plan B is associated with more risks and reduced effectiveness. 
The "morning after pill":
- Can be safely taken by almost any woman of child bearing age although it should not be taken by those with undiagnosed vaginal bleeding or those allergic to any of the ingredients.
- Is most effective if taken within the first 24 hours after unprotected sex (95% success rate). The success rate after 24 to 48 hours is 85% but only 58% after 48 to 72 hours. It can be taken up to 4 or 5 days after without harm but with a lower chance of success.
- Will not protect against pregnancy due to future incidents of unprotected sex.
- Side effects are generally mild and include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, headache and fatigue. Gravol or Bonamine may be taken 1/2 to 1 hour prior to the dose to reduce the risk of vomiting however this will increase the risk of drowsiness. If vomiting occurs within one hour of taking the dose, the dose should be repeated 1/2 hour following a dose of Gravol or Bonamine.
- May rarely cause itching all over or cramping/severe pain in the belly before your next regular period. Contact a doctor immediately should this occur. 
- Is not an effective method of birth control when compared to the usual methods and so should not be used regularly for this purpose.
- Will not prevent every pregnancy. If your period does not begin within 21 days after your dose of Plan B or within a week after it would normally begin then a pregnancy test should be done.   
- Will have NO effect on the pregnancy if a woman is already pregnant and takes the Plan B. It will not abort the pregnancy nor will it affect the baby in a negative way.
- Will not bring on a "period" although spotting may occur.
- Is usually taken as a course of two tablets taken 12 hours apart although some sources say that it is just as effective if both tablets are taken at the same time. This latter method does not increase the risk of side effects.
- May not be effective in women who are taking phenytoin, carbemazepine or rifampin.
- May bring on or worsen a headache in migraine sufferers. 
- Will not prevent or cure sexually transmitted diseases. 
Patients should follow up with their own physician or visit a local community health centre to discuss screening for sexually transmitted diseases and the need for a regular birth control method.
Women already taking birth control pills should continue to take them as if nothing happened. Plan B will rarely affect the cycle.
It is less expensive to get a prescription from your doctor since OHIP pays the visit fee. If you purchase directly from the pharmacy, you have to pay a visit fee out of your own pocket.
Accidental pregnancies, many unwanted and unwelcomed, are considered to be a major health problem in Canada carrying tremendous risks and consequences to both the mother and child. There were 42,161 teen pregnancies in Canada in 1997. More or less half of the pregnancies in 15 to 19 year olds end in abortion. 
While the proper use of birth control methods (including abstinence) would seem to be a logical remedy the reality is that even the most reliable methods are not perfect and human nature and emotion is geared to procreation.
In order to help prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex, quick access to emergency contraception is vital. 
The pharmacist will ask a few questions to make sure that the patient is a suitable candidates for Plan B such as:
1) Has it been less than 72 hours (3 days) since you had unprotected sex?
2) Is there any chance that you are already pregnant? 
3) Do you have any undiagnosed vaginal bleeding?