While emergency contraceptive pills have been a known name and in sale since ancient times in the western world, they caught fame in the Indian market, only in the last few years. The practice dates back to Egypt in 1500 BC where vaginal douches with wine, garlic and fennel were used to prevent pregnancy post unprotected sexual intercourse. i-pill, the emergency contraceptive pill launched by Cipla, has turned out to be a highly successful venture in the Indian market. So much so that other drug dealers, too, have got busy planning how to best cash on the momentum created. Interestingly, this concept which is already quite old in the western countries is being eagerly lapped up by Indian consumers.
i-pill, it seems, has become a long awaited solution for the India which accounts for approximately five million unsafe abortions. Out of this, about 78 per cent pregnancies are unplanned. Cipla underscores that i-pill can be purchased from the chemist without a prescription and has to be consumed within 72 hours of having unprotected sex. Also known as morning after pill or postcoital pill, this emergency contraceptive pill (ECP) becomes necessary when a woman is put to the risk of pregnancy due to contraceptive failure, unprotected sex, forced sex, breakage or coming off of the condom, and improper use of regular birth control method. The other emergency contraceptive pill that deals with preventing unintended pregnancy is Unwanted 72, by Mankind Pharma.
How does i-pill Work?
i-pill contains the female hormone, levonorgestrel - a progestogen that is highly useful for preventing the ovulation of the egg in the uterus, thereby avoiding the onset of pregnancy. It is said to work in three different ways, based on which day of the menstrual cycle one is at.
- Firstly, it will strive to prevent the egg from being released from the ovary
- Second, it may check the sperm from fertilizing the egg, and
- Lastly, the emergency contraceptive pill may prevent the fertilized egg from being implanted to the wall of the uterus.
How to Take i-pill?
Also known as morning after pill, the drug is often mislead to be consumed in the morning after having sex. While the reality is that the pill can be taken right after having sex or within 72 hours of having sex. Being an oral tablet, the i-pill can be taken with some water to prevent unplanned pregnancy. To avoid any kind of uncomfortability, the i-pill should be consumed after eating meals. But, if one vomits within three hours of taking the i-pill, a second doze should be taken at the earliest.
The earlier one consumes the i-pill tablet, the better and more effective it is, as the effectiveness of the drug reduces as time wears on. When consumed within 24 hours of unsafe sex, the i-pill offers 95% effectiveness; however, the success rate reduces to 85% when consumed within 25-48 hours and 58% when taken between 49-72 hours. Further, if the periods get delayed by more than one week, it is advised that the woman seeks medical consultation and goes for a pregnancy test.
There are, however, a few drawbacks attached to i-pill, as stated by Cipla itself, though they are not long-term or serious.
- The drug will not have any effect if the fertilized egg has already attached itself to the wall of the womb by the time i-pill is consumed.
- Some common side effects observed after consuming i-pill are nausea, vomiting, lower abdominal pain, dizziness, feeling breast tenderness, and headache. However, they should subside within a day or two of taking the drug.
- Unexpected vaginal bleeding and delay or early occurrence of menstrual cycle can also be observed in some women, but they aren’t risky.
- Unlike other contraceptive alternatives like condom, i-pill also does not offer protection from venereal diseases like AIDS.
- i-pill will be of no use if pregnancy has already started.
- Those allergic to levonorgestrel, the medicine present in i-pill, should avoid the usage of this drug.
- However, one should contact a medical practitioner on immediate basis if the female experiences symptoms, such as severe headache, severe abdominal pain, eye problems like blurring of vision, chest pain or shortness of breath, and severe leg or arm pain.
While the i-pill is easily available at all pharmaceutical stores as an over-the-counter medicine, it is only an emergency method of preventing pregnancy, and not an abortion pill. By taking the right precautions while enjoying sexual intercourse, the use of emergency contraceptives can be avoided.