Nobody likes pregnancy scares – the uncertainty of not knowing, faux symptoms and general discomfort that comes with desperately hoping you are just in your head and not expecting. A simple way to end this mind-wrenching cycle would be to use some form of contraceptive. Unfortunately, the only 100% effective contraception method is abstinence. So, what happens when a condom breaks or the pull-out method (which really shouldn’t be considered a standard method of contraception) fails? This is where the morning-after pill comes in. Also known as plan-B, emergency pill, or post-pill, the morning-after pill is an emergency contraceptive used within 72 hours after sex as backup birth control when the primary method of birth control has failed. The pill prevents pregnancy by delaying ovulation or temporarily stopping the release of an egg. These pills are available over the counter in virtually every pharmacy. While these pills are lifesavers, they often have adverse side effects that some people are not aware of. In this week’s Nigerian Lives, five women share their experiences with the morning after pill and what they wish they knew before using it.
The first time I took the morning after pill was also the last time I took it. I had linked with an old friend, one thing led to another, and I ended up at his place. We did the responsible thing and used a condom, but it broke, and both of us were too far gone to care. Afterwards, I panicked, and we both went to a pharmacy to get a pill. I took it right there in front of the pharmacy, less than an hour after we were done. Long story short, the pill did not work. I had no idea that the pill wouldn’t work if you were ovulating, and I was. About three weeks later, I was worried that my period symptoms were more pronounced, and even though my friend tried to chalk it down to the pill, I went with my gut and bought a strip test. When I saw two lines, I knew there was trouble.
After using the morning after pill, I had terrible cramps, and I had no idea I could miss my period because of it. I panicked so much because I thought I was pregnant and had dramatic mood swings.
The first time I took an emergency pill, I bled for the next two days. It was light bleeding without any cramps, and the pill worked. I had to take it again the next month, and I didn’t bleed like the first time. I was a bit worried, but I did a little googling and found out it was nothing unusual. Two weeks after taking the pill, I woke up bleeding heavily. It was heavier than any period I’d ever had, terrifying. I couldn’t sit or lay down for too long throughout that day. I promised God and myself that I would never have sex again if the bleeding stopped. After about three days, it slowed down and then stopped. I still saw my period the next week, which was very traumatic.
When I used the morning-after pill, it did work, but the effects were horrible. Apart from the unexpected bleeding, my cycle was messed up for months. I wish I was told the extent to which it would mess up my cycle. I’m now on proper birth control because I can’t handle any uncertainty. These pills have different effects on different people, and I wouldn’t recommend them as a contraceptive to anyone I know.
I honestly believe the morning-after pill made my eczema flare up. Usually, I’d apply some cream to eczema, and it wouldn’t bother me, but after using the pill, the flare-ups became severe, and the cream stopped helping. I used the pill four times in three years and haven’t used it anymore. I try to abstain as much as I can. Sex isn’t worth all this stress.
*This article is based on real-life events. The names used are mere pseudonyms to protect the identities of the individuals mentioned in the article.
Nigerian Lives is a Culture Custodian weekly series where we hear from Nigerians who share tidbits about their experiences. It goes up every Monday.
Would you like to share your story with Culture Custodian? Kindly send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org