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Advice from the Maternity Clinic
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Support During Labour
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Introduction
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When Pain Doesn't End
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Antibiotics and Dental Surgery
Baby Bottle Tooth Decay
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10,000 Steps
A1C Test
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A Diabetes Success Story
ABCs of Diabetes Management
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Benefits of Insulin
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Blood Glucose Medications
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Canada Food Guide Revisited
Carbohydrate Counting
Catastrophic Drug Plan
CDA Guidelines for Diabetes
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Celebrating Health
Childhood Diagnosis of Diabetes
Children and Type 2 Diabetes
Cholesterol-lowering Medications
Colds and Diabetes
Constipation
Continuous Blood Glucose Monitoring
Cutting Edge
Dangers of Uncontrolled High Blood Pressure
Debunking Diabetes Myths
Driving and Diabetes
Diabetes and Menopause
Diabetes and OTC Medications
Diabetes Care Team
Diabetes and Celiac
Diabetes and Depression
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Diabetes Eating on a Shoestring Budget
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Diabetes and Oral Health
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Diabetes in Cats
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Diabetes Management ABCs
Diabetes Meter Technicians
Diabetes Myths
Diabetic Ketoacidosis
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Diet Tips for South Asians
Dining Out
Drinking and Diabetes
The Discovery of Insulin
Eating Disorders
Easing the Strain of Stress
Eating to Protect Your Kidneys
Eating Well During Shift Work
Eggs in a Diabetic Diet
Emotional Eating
Emotions of Diabetes Diagnosis
Erectile Dysfunction
Exercise Excuses
Why Fad Diets Fail
Fats
Fibre
Fill Your Day with Energy
Financial Support for Diabetes
Food Temptation
Foot Care
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Gastroparesis
Gestational Diabetes
Get Active
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Gift Ideas
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The Glycemic Index
Going Green in the Kitchen
Grocery Shopping Tips
Guidelines for Diabetes Management
Holiday Party Survival Guide
Health Information on the 'Net
Healthy Happy Holidays
Healthy Beverage Choices
Health Benefits of Soy
Healthy Restaurant Meals
High Blood Pressure and Diabetes
High Blood Pressure
HbA1c Test
Healthy Eating for Active People
High Blood Lipids
Home from the Hospital
Home Alone and Sick
Hypoglycemic Unawareness
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Immunization & Diabetes
Incretins-a Hormone Treatment
Injecting Insulin
Insulin Discovery-The Story
Insulin
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Insulin - the Key to Energy Management
Insulin Pumps
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Immunization and Diabetes
Internet Health Sites
Islet Cell Transplantation
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Kidney Disease - Reducing the Risk
Living with Diagnosis of Diabetes
Living Powerfully with Diabetes
Low Blood Glucose
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Your Medication Expert
Medication Research Studies
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Microalbuminuria
New Diabetes Technologies
Natural Medicines and Diabetes
No Need for Insulin?
Not Snoozing
Over-the-Counter Medications
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Diabetes and OTC Medications
Pedicure Precautions
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Pet Diabetes
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Reducing Stress of Surgery
Safe and Successful Travel
Schizophrenia and Diabetes
Sensible Snacking
Setting Health Goals
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Sharps Disposal
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Sleep - a Missing Link
Smart Snacking
Smart Summer Nutrition
Snack Bars
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Sodium
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Solving the Insurance Puzzle
Stress and Diabetes
Success in School
Supplements
Supporting Spouse with Diabetes
Sweeteners
Sugar, Carbs and Blood Glucose Control
Think Positive with Diabetes
Tiny Bites Equal Big Calories
Travelling with Diabetes
Tips for a Better You
Tobacco Use and Diabetes
Top 10 Reasons to Exercise
Treating Low Blood Glucose
Treating Hypoglycemia - Role of Glucagon
Tune up Your Diet
Type 1.5 Diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes
Understanding Diabetes
Understanding Diabetes Medications
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Used Sharps
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Vacationing with Diabetes
Vegetarian Eating for Diabetes
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Wise Choices About Natural Medicines
Wonderful Water
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World Diabetes Day
Your Medicine Cupboard
Zimbabwe Hand Jive
Family Medicine
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ADHD in Children
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Aspirin Every Day?
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Back Pain Myths
Back Pain - Lower
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Doctor Visit
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Canada's New Blood System
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Soy
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5 Tips to Manage Weight
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Battle the Bulge
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Breakfast is Important
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Diet Reality Check
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Energy Drinks
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Food for Active Kids
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Healthy Diet, Healthy Smile
Healthy Eating for Boomers and Zoomers
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Healthy Eating on Business Travel
Healthy Ethnic Meals
Fad Diets
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Feeding Your Kids
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Food Chemistry 101
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Healthy Eating for Teens
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New Ingredients for Your Shopping Cart
Iron
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Changing Role of the Pharmacist
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Expanding Role of Pharmacies
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Pharmaceutical Studies
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The Flu and You
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H1N1 Virus - Plan Ahead
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Keys to Preventing Cancer
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Preventing Burns and Scalds
Preventing Cancer through Nutrition
Quit Smoking 101
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Teens, Drugs and Driving
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Women's Health
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15 Great Reasons to Breastfeed
Anemia
Approaching Menopause
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Breast Cancer Self-Exam
Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines Changes
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Hirsutism - Unwanted Hair
Hormone Replacement Therapy
The IUD
Menopause - What Men Should Know
Menstrual Bleeding - Abnormal
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Menopause
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Third Generation Birth Control Pills
Osteoporosis
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Oral Contraction (The Pill)
Pap Test
Premenstrual Syndrome
xx
Sexually Transmitted Infections
Urinary Incontinence
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Viagra for Women
Yeast Infections
Your Pelvic Floor
Family Health Online / Pharmacy at Safeway
Family Health Magazine - PHARMACY CARE

Emergency Contraception
When the unexpected happens

Canadians have many options to prevent pregnancy. From birth control pills, condoms and diaphragms to surgery, methods exist to suit each person’s lifestyle and preferences. However, sometimes a method of preventing pregnancy is not used, is forgotten, or fails. At these times, women in Canada may turn to pharmacists for assistance with emergency contraception.

Women and their partners have many birth control choices to prevent pregnancy. These options should be considered with the help of a doctor, pharmacist or other health care professional.

Canadians have many options to prevent pregnancy. From birth control pills, condoms and diaphragms to surgery, methods exist to suit each person’s lifestyle and preferences. However, sometimes a method of preventing pregnancy is not used, is forgotten, or fails. At these times, women in Canada may turn to pharmacists for assistance with emergency contraception.

In pharmacies in Canada, emergency contraception pills are available without a prescription. Also known as ‘the morning after pill,” this medication can be taken to prevent pregnancy after unprotected intercourse. It stops the release of an egg from the ovary, prevents fertilization, or prevents a fertilized egg from attaching to or implanting in the uterus (womb). This treatment will not end a pregnancy, and is not an abortion pill. It is a timely dose of a hormone that does not allow an egg to develop into a pregnancy. Emergency contraception has been shown to be a safe and effective method of preventing an unplanned pregnancy. It should not be used if a pregnancy has already been confirmed or abnormal vaginal bleeding has occurred.

Two products are available in Canada – plan B® and NorLevo®. Both contain two tablets of levonorgestrel, a medication often found in birth control pills. Levonorgestrel has been in use for many years. The tablets are taken together as a single dose. Generally they should be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex to be most effective, but may be used for up to five days afterward.

Is emergency contraception an option?

Women need to know whether they can use emergency contraception to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. With the help of a pharmacist, a woman can determine if ‘the morning after pill’ is appropriate. The pharmacist will ask questions and assess information provided by the woman. Using a screening form developed by the Canadian Pharmacists Association, the pharmacist may ask the woman about the date of her last menstrual period and whether any other form of birth control was used. An explanation of how the medication works would be given, along with answers to any questions that arise. The www.planb.ca and www.norlevo.com websites can also help women to learn more and have an idea what to expect when taking the pills.

Side effects

The most common reported side effect of the pills is nausea. It happens in 14 to 23 per cent of women. Up to six per cent of women vomit. Some women may also have spotting or irregular menstrual bleeding until the next menstrual cycle. Others experience no ill effects at all. Occasionally, breast tenderness, headache, dizziness and diarrhea can occur. If these symptoms continue for more than 48 hours, consult a health care provider. If a woman develops itching or a rash, sudden stomach cramps or pain, or a severe headache, she should see a doctor right away. However, these situations are extremely rare. Most women tolerate the medication very well.

After the dose of levonorgestrel, women should expect their periods around the usual time. If the period is a week or more late, or more than three weeks pass without a period after taking the tablets, take a pregnancy test.

Preventing pregnancy

Emergency contraception should not be used as a regular form of birth control. While there are no medical restrictions on taking the pills more than once, they are only meant for emergency situations. A woman should consider a more long-term method of birth control if she does not want to become pregnant. Reserve the ‘morning after pill’ for emergencies or when a regular method of birth control fails. A health care provider can advise on an appropriate method to prevent unplanned pregnancy.

condom (courtesy wikipedia)Condoms provide a physical barrier during sex, protecting against both pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. While they are simple to use and readily available, failures using both male and female condoms do occur. Failure rates can be as high as 15 per cent. A diaphragm also provides a physical barrier to protect against pregnancy, but does not protect against infections. It must be fitted by a doctor.

birth control pills (courtesy wikipedia)Birth control pills (oral contraceptives) are a common choice for preventing pregnancy. These medications are highly effective and provide a reliable method of birth control that can be stopped or reversed at any time. Side effects are generally mild, especially with the newer low dose options available. Side effects include breast tenderness, nausea, headache and spotting. Women may choose to take the pills without any breaks. This extended or continuous dosing allows women to ‘skip’ periods. For women who have bad cramps or heavy bleeding, this is ideal. Birth control pills and other hormone treatments to prevent pregnancy do not protect against sexually transmitted infections.

Evra® patch (courtesy wikipedia)Evra® is a birth control patch that gives medication through the skin. Patches are applied to the skin and left on for one week, for three weeks in a row. After that, the patch will be removed for one week. Some women have trouble keeping the patches on their skin, or have a skin reaction where the patch is applied.

NuvaRing® (courtesy wikipedia)NuvaRing®, another alternative to oral pills, is a ring containing hormones. It is placed inside the vagina for three weeks and then removed for one week. Both forms are very effective with few side effects. They are a reversible option for birth control.
Another option is a form of the hormone progesterone that is given by injection. Depo-Provera® is a long-lasting injection that provides three months of protection from pregnancy. It is given only four times per year. It contains no estrogen, and may result in no period. There may be a slight delay in return to fertility after stopping the injection. A few side effects, such as headache, weight gain and mood effects, are possible and should be considered.

IUD (courtesy wikipedia)A longer-lasting alternative is an IUD (intrauterine device). An IUD can be copper or hormonal (Mirena®). It is inserted into the uterus and can be left in place for up to five years. The effects will reverse when the device is removed. Some bleeding may occur after insertion, especially during the first month. Insertion must take place in a doctor’s office.

Women and their partners have many birth control choices to prevent pregnancy. These options should be considered with the help of a doctor, pharmacist or other health care professional. Many choices are available to suit individual lifestyles. If a long-term method of birth control fails (or is forgotten), emergency contraception is available. Both planB® and NorLevo® are available in pharmacies in Canada without a prescription. These products are very effective if used within 72 hours after unprotected sex. They can provide reassurance of pregnancy prevention. Pharmacists can help decide if emergency contraception is appropriate, and assist women in developing a plan for birth control.

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FAMILY HEALTH is written with the assistance of
College of Family Physicans of Canada
Alberta College of Family Physicians
FAMILY HEALTH is written
with the assistance of
The College of Family Physicans of Canada
Alberta College of Family Physicians
While effort is made to reflect accepted medical knowledge and practice, articles in Family Health Online should not be relied upon for the treatment or management of any specified medical problem or concern and Family Health accepts no liability for reliance on the articles. For proper diagnosis and care, you should always consult your family physician promptly. © Copyright 2015, Family Health Magazine, a special publication of the Edmonton Journal, a division of Postmedia Network Inc., 10006 - 101 Street, Edmonton, AB T5J 2S6    [PC_FHd13]
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Articles in this section of
Family Health OnLine are sponsored by:
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