Are You One Of The Many Irish Women Who Believe This Morning-After Pill Myth?

A lot to learn.

Morning after pill

The morning-after pill is one of those things we tend not to give much thought to until we need to use it. Then it’s all systems go: when was my last period, where’s the nearest pharmacy, when was the last time I took it?

It’s no surprise then, that there are countless myths out there that many of us believe or simply assume are true about emergency contraception. A new survey carried out by HRA Pharma, the manufacturers of ellaOne, revealed that at least 80% of Irish women believed or had heard at least one untrue myth about the morning-after pill.

So what’s correct and what’s just wild speculation? We got the lowdown from pharmacist Joanne Kissane.

The morning-after pill is the only form of emergency contraception, right?
Nope. Despite 34% of Irish women having heard that the morning-after pill was the only option out there, there are in fact two methods of emergency contraception. “The second option open to women is the emergency IUD, or intrauterine device, also known as the emergency coil,” says Joanne.

Using the morning-after pill repeatedly will make me infertile.
A massive 41% of Irish women surveyed said that they had heard this was true, but Joanne says there’s no evidence to back this up. “Emergency contraception has no effect on future fertility,” she explains. Even so, it’s not wise to rely on the morning-after pill to protect you every time you have sex without protection. “It’s a backup method for preventing pregnancy that should only be used occasionally,” Joanne advises.

Couple having sex on the floor

Emergency contraception works by causing a mini abortion.
Another false myth, which 36% of Irish women surveyed head heard about or believed to be true. “The morning after pill does not cause an abortion,” explains Joanne. “It works by delaying or inhibiting egg release. This means that the sperm waiting in the fallopian tubes will be unable to meet an egg and fertilise it.” Regular contraceptive pills also work by preventing egg release.

Trying to track down the morning-after pill is a nightmare.
Almost a quarter (24%) of women surveyed had heard that the morning after pill is hard to get, but even on evenings and weekends you can still get it over-the–counter at any pharmacy. “Oral emergency contraception is available directly from your pharmacist, without a prescription,” advises Joanne. “You can also get emergency contraception from your GP, family planning clinic, walk-in centre or out of hours service.”


The morning-after pill will ONLY work if you take it within 24 hours.
While it’s more likely to be effective the sooner you can take it, emergency contraception is not just for “the morning after,” y’know. “You can take ellaOne up to 120 hours (5 days) after unprotected sex, while Levonogestral can be taken up to 72 hours (3 days) after,” recommends Joanne. “The emergency IUD can be inserted up to five days after unprotected sex – or up to five days after the earliest time you could have ovulated.”

It’s grand to use emergency contraception instead of regular contraception.
One in almost every seven women said they thought there was no problem using the morning-after pill in place of the regular pill or condoms. “Emergency contraception is not regular contraception,” warns Joanne. “It should be viewed as a ‘back up’ option. In addition, emergency contraception does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) as condoms do.”