How to use the morning-after pill: A guide to Restart™
If you're using the morning-after pill with levonorgestrel for the first time or simply want a refresher on how it works, here's our complete guide to taking Restart™, our emergency contraceptive pill available without a prescription.
What's the morning-after pill? When do you take it?
Our morning-after pill Restart™ is a form of emergency contraception that helps prevent pregnancy after you’ve had unprotected sex or your birth control didn’t work. It’s recommended as a backup method for preventing pregnancy and is not intended for use as regular birth control.
When used 72 hours (3 days) after unprotected sex, Restart™ can significantly decrease your chances of pregnancy. The sooner you take it after unprotected sex, the more effective it is at preventing pregnancy.restart
Reasons to use the morning-after pill can include:
- The condom fell off or broke or your diaphragm had a mishap and slipped out of place
- Your partner didn’t pull out in time
- No form of birth control was used or was forgotten
- Your regular form of birth control didn’t work
- You got off track with your recommended birth control schedule (missed a couple of pills, forgot to put in the ring, or didn’t switch the patch in time)
- You had unprotected sex for any reason
How does the morning-after pill work?
The active ingredient in Restart™ is the hormone levonorgestrel commonly found in hormonal birth control methods and has been used for several decades. Restart™ contains a higher dose of levonorgestrel than regular birth control pills, but they work similarly to prevent pregnancy.
The morning-after pill with levonorgestrel works by delaying the release of an egg from your ovary (AKA ovulation) so that the egg can’t be fertilized by sperm. This hormone may also help prevent implantation, which is the attachment of a fertilized egg to the walls of your uterus.
If a fertilized egg has already gone through the implantation process, this type of emergency contraception will be ineffective, and the pregnancy will progress. Taking an emergency contraceptive will not cause a miscarriage or terminate an existing pregnancy. If you don’t get your period within 2-4 weeks of taking the morning-after pill, we recommend taking a pregnancy test and following up with your primary care doctor.
Does Restart™ protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs)?
Restart™ doesn’t protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). If you are sexually active, you should see a healthcare provider for routine checkups and regular testing.
How effective is the morning-after pill?
The morning-after pill with levonorgestrel can be between 75-89% effective at preventing pregnancy if taken within 72 hours (3 days) of unprotected sex. The sooner you take Restart™ after unprotected sexual activity, the more effective it is.
When should I talk to a doctor or pharmacist before taking the morning-after pill?
The morning-after pill might not be as effective if you take certain medications. Specific medical products or herbal supplements that can reduce its ability to work include:
- Some tuberculosis treatments (including Rifampin)
- Some HIV treatments (including Efavirenz)
- Some seizure medications for epilepsy
- Some antifungals (including Griseofulvin)
- Certain antibiotics
- St. John’s wort
If you are concerned that Restart™ may not work for you, talk to your primary care provider to discuss your options. Your doctor may prescribe another form of emergency contraception that may not be affected by these medications.
Is there a weight limit for Restart?
The FDA states that there are no concerns that would prevent someone from using Restart™ (or any other morning-after pill formulated with levonorgestrel) safely — regardless of how much they weigh. However, there are some studies that suggest efficacy may decrease as body weight and BMI increase. If you weigh over 165 lbs or have a BMI over 25, Restart™ may not be as effective, and you may want to consider the prescription morning-after pill, ella®, or the copper IUD as alternative emergency contraception options. If you have concerns about whether Restart™ is right for you, reach out to your primary care provider.
For more on this topic from our medical advisor Dr. Carolyn Ross, OGBYN, read Does the morning-after pill have a weight limit? on our education hub, Real Talk.
What are the side effects of the morning-after pill?
Most effects of taking the morning-after pill are temporary and usually short-term. The most common side effects of Restart™ can include:
- Changes to menstruation (abnormal bleeding; the following period may be lighter or heavier than usual and may or may not be up to a week later than normal)
- Your next few period(s) may be more painful than usual
- Nausea or vomiting
- Breast tenderness
- Headache or dizziness
- Fatigue or generally feeling under the weather
- Abdominal pain or cramps
Nausea is one of the most common side effects. To help prevent this side effect, it’s recommended to take the morning-after pill with food. If you vomit within 2 hours of taking Restart™, contact your primary care provider to determine whether you should repeat the dose.
It’s also important to know that some cramping is normal when using the morning-after pill. If you’re experiencing severe cramps or heavy vaginal bleeding, this could be an indication of an ectopic pregnancy, which is when a fertilized egg grows outside of the uterus. This condition can be life-threatening if left untreated, so it’s recommended that you contact your primary care provider immediately if you experience moderate to severe bleeding and cramps.
Does Restart have any effect on my ability to get pregnant in the future?
Infertility has not been linked as a short-term or long-term effect of using Restart™ or any levonorgestrel emergency contraceptive. Emergency contraceptives delay ovulation for a short period, reducing your chances of getting pregnant as it relates to ovulation of an egg for that period. The delay doesn’t last long, and there’s no evidence suggesting that fertility is otherwise affected. Chances of getting pregnant should be the same as it was before by the time you start your next cycle.
How do you know the morning-after pill worked?
You’ll know Restart has effectively prevented pregnancy when you get your next period, which should come at the normal time in your cycle or within a week. If your period is delayed beyond one week, it’s possible you may be pregnant. You should take a pregnancy test and follow up with your primary care provider for next steps.
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