What Is the Yuzpe Method of Emergency Contraception?
- The Yuzpe method involves using regular birth control pills as a form of emergency contraception.
- Only birth control pills that contain both estrogen and progestin can be used in the Yuzpe method.
- The Yuzpe method isn’t the most effective form of emergency contraception.
- Other methods, like Plan B One-Step (levonorgestrel), Ella (ulipristal), and the copper intrauterine device (Paragard), are more effective.
The terms “emergency contraception” and “morning-after pill” are often used interchangeably. Emergency contraception is a term used to describe methods of preventing pregnancy after intercourse. The morning-after pill is a generic name for Plan B One-Step (levonorgestrel).
Plan B is one of the most common forms of emergency contraception, but it’s not the only one. Other options include the Yuzpe method, which involves using regular birth control pills as emergency contraception.
Here, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the Yuzpe method — how it works, how to use it, and how safe and effective it is.
What is the Yuzpe method?
If you’re worried about an unwanted pregnancy right after unprotected sex, you can safely use existing birth control pills as emergency contraception (EC) right away, say several reproductive health experts.
In what’s known as the Yuzpe method, you take two doses (pills) of a combined estrogen-progestin oral contraceptive, 12 hours apart, says Michele Bosworth, MD. She co-authored a 2014 article on the practice in the journal American Family Physician while working for the department of family medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center. “This is a convenient method for patients to use the pills they already have,” she says.
Both pill doses should be taken as soon as possible, ideally within 72 hours (three days) of unprotected sex, and no later than 120 hours (5 days) after unprotected sex, says Sarah Diemert, a nurse practitioner. and director of medical services. standards, integration, and evaluation for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
Reduce the Risk of Unplanned Pregnancy
“Emergency contraceptive pills work by delaying or preventing ovulation,” Diemert says. “Using emergency contraception correctly after unprotected sex lowers the likelihood of getting pregnant.”
While no contraceptive method can prevent pregnancy with 100 percent certainty, the Yuzpe method of combined oral contraceptives for emergency contraception reduces the risk of pregnancy by roughly 74 percent if started within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse, Diemert says. For extra protection, she recommends using a backup form of birth control for seven days after taking emergency contraception.
The Yupze Method Is One of Several EC Options
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Yuzpe Works Only With Certain Brands of the Pill
Only certain types of birth control pills that contain specific doses of estrogen and progestin can be used in the Yuzpe method. Find your brand of birth control pill to see how to use it, if needed, for emergency contraception.
Using birth control pills in this way can cause side effects. They can include nausea and vomiting. If you vomit within two hours of taking a pill, you should repeat the dose, Diemert says. Other side effects may include breast tenderness, fatigue, irregular bleeding, abdominal pain, headache, and dizziness. “These side effects usually subside a day or two after taking the pills,” she says.
While research in this area is limited, the Yuzpe method may not be as effective in people who are overweight or obese, says Dr. Bosworth.