Can You Take The Morning After Pill "Too Many" Times?

photographed by Megan Madden.
Whether it was your high school gym teacher during sex ed, a know-it-all friend, or a rogue internet message board, many of us have been warned that you shouldn't take emergency contraception too much, because it'll eventually make you infertile. Tons of people rely on emergency contraception pills, like Plan B or ella, to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sexual intercourse. But is this scary myth actually true?
First, it's important to understand how the "morning after pill" actually works. Emergency contraception pills contain hormones that stop or delay ovulation in order to prevent pregnancy, according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG). Some pills contain one hormone, progestin, while others contain a combination of estrogen and progestin. You can buy emergency contraception pills in the family planning section of drugstores, and you typically don't need a prescription.
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Technically, you're not supposed to use emergency contraception as a long-term form of birth control, according to ACOG. Using emergency contraception all the time is simply not as effective as using a birth control method, such as the pill or an intrauterine device, consistently. Not to mention, buying emergency contraception all the time would be super expensive compared to getting a birth control prescription. Given the high levels of hormones in the pills, taking them repeatedly could lead to uncomfortable side effects, like headaches, nausea, or bleeding.
That said, you can use emergency contraception pills more than one time during your menstrual cycle and it should still work fine, according to the ACOG. There haven't really been any studies that focus on the long-term effects of using emergency contraception pills frequently, but the likelihood of any serious health problems occurring is pretty low. If anything, it could potentially make your period irregular, which is not ideal if you're trying to avoid pregnancy. And again, given that birth control tends to be more effective than emergency contraception pills, it's riskier to count on emergency methods.
As for the myth that emergency contraception pills will make you infertile? There's no scientific evidence that emergency contraception affects your fertility at all. So, you can go tell your source that they're ill-informed — and then perhaps educate them on the benefits of using a more consistent birth control method.
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