Medicines have benefits and some have risks. Always read the label and use only as directed. If symptoms persist or you have side effects see your health professional. Brands and generics both contain the same active ingredient(s) and are medically equivalent. Some brands are marketed under different names by the same manufacturing country depending on the country of origin.
I-Pill (levonorgestrel) is an emergency contraceptive taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy in women. This type of medication is perhaps better recognized as a "morning after pill".
I-Pill is not an abortifacient; it will not terminate an existing pregnancy. If taken early enough after unprotected sex it will prevent pregnancy from occurring. Patients interested in terminating a pregnancy may want to look into misoprostol.
This product is not meant to be used as a regular contraceptive; it should not be taken more than twice per month, ideally less often. I-Pill contains a relatively large volume of a potent hormone which can cause unpleasant, disruptive, and dangerous side effects---some of which can be permanent---if misused.
Finally, I-Pill is intended for women age 25 to 45, though in practice women outside of this age group---particularly younger women---do utilize this drug. Effects on patients younger or older than 25 to 45 have not been studied and are largely unknown.
How I-Pill Works
I-Pill contains the active ingredient levonorgestrel, a progestogen hormone. It is found in many different products, including some types of birth control. For routine birth control it typically ranges from 0.03 mg to 0.15 mg; in I-Pill, it is found in 1.5 mg strengths.
In all cases levonorgestrel helps prevent pregnancy in three ways:
Once a fertilized egg has attached---otherwise known as pregnancy---the medication will not stop it from proceeding.
I-Pill is effective, but effectiveness depends to some extent on how soon after unprotected sex the pill is taken:
As can be seen from the above, time matters. If I-Pill or some equivalent version of a "morning after pill" is not readily available from a local pharmacy, it may be best to keep some on-hand.
How to Take It
I-Pill is easy enough to take; a single pill is swallowed as soon as possible after unprotected sex. Food and a glass of fluid are recommended to help ease gastrointestinal side effects.
A single dose is all it takes; do not take more than one pill. Taking multiple pills does not increase the likelihood of it working. Patients who are significantly overweight are the possible exception here; studies conflict as to the effectiveness of levonorgestrel on obese women. If in doubt, speak with a doctor or pharmacist about the issue. Odds are good that these patients will still be advised to take just a single pill.
Warnings & Side Effects
If used as directed---a single pill no more than twice a month---I-Pill is a very safe medication. Some women do experience side effects of:
The above typically pass after a day or two, and are not cause for concern unless severe or persistant.
Some women (not all) experience menstrual irregularities; early or late periods by one or two weeks. Some women also say flow is heavier or lighter than usual, and a few may experience spotting. None of these are particularly concerning unless menstruation is very heavy or lasts longer than seven days. If I-Pill is misused, these menstrual changes may be permanent. If a period is more than two weeks late, the possibility of pregnancy must be considered.
Note that misuse of I-Pill can also lead to permanent ovarian damage, particularly in women younger than 25.
I-Pill does nothing to protect against sexually-transmitted diseases.
Numerous other medications can interfere with I-Pill's effectiveness, including over-the-counter varieties like St. John's wort. Avoid taking all non-vital medications for a few days after taking I-Pill. More critical medications of concern include:
If taking the above, speak with a doctor or pharmacist about alternative options.
Regular Birth Control Options
Kiwi Drug offers a number of other birth control options, most of which are designed for routine intercourse. Patients are welcome to browse our selection or to contact us if you need help choosing an appropriate product.