Are Menstrual Cups better than Pads?

“Oh my, these cramps again.”

“Hey, could you just check my back when I stand.”

Yes, ‘PERIODS’. Those 7 days of month where mood swings are a matter of fact and irritation is at its peaks.

When it comes to the options available during periods to contain the blood, every other option widely talked about is either uncomfortable, expensive or environmentally unsafe. Woman to woman, don’t you think we deserve a better alternative which is both comfortable and safe? Coming to the lesser talked options, menstrual cups is one such option which is both cost effective and environment friendly.

In a conversation with a senior recently about menstrual cups, she had only two questions rather doubts in her mind.

“Does it hurt?”

“Is it safe?”

I understood from her that it wasn’t her alone who had the query in her mind, that there are hundreds of others who were ready to use these cups but have no clue about how it works, what are the factors to be considered while buying them. If you’re one of them, here are some things you can consider while buying them.

  1. Does it hurt?

As to the question about pain and if menstrual cups hurt, I’d say not really. Until and unless your cup is positioned in the right way, there’s no way it can hurt. Regardless, the first few times may be a little uncomfortable till you learn to insert it the right way. On the contrary, menstrual cups have proven to reduce the pain caused due to cramps on those days and are certainly a bliss for woman who go through a lot of cramps and unease. Some online reviews of certain menstrual cups further prove the point where happy customers report of little or no cramps at all during their usage of these cups.

2) Does Size Matter?

As silly as it sounds, sizes do matter and these cups generally come under 3 sizes, small(S), medium (M) and large (L). Small (S) being the smallest in size is recommended for women who’ve never given birth or had intercourse and age around 18 and lesser. Medium (M) on the other hand is recommended for women in their mid-twenties who haven’t given birth yet. Large (L) is specifically for women who have given birth. A lot of brands also require knowing your typical blood flow ranging between 10 to 80 ml which further decides your ideal size. However, the sizes differ from brand to brand and a lot of brands give specified guidelines on the sizes available and the users suitable for it.

3) How to use it?

Every menstrual cup, comes with its own set of instructions. Even then, there are a few things which are common for every person using these cups. A cup needs to be cleaned every 10-12 hours to give the desired results and requires to be sterilized after every cycle with either boiling water or sterilization liquids used in bottles for babies. The insertion and removal of the cup maybe a hassle the first few times but as you start getting used to it, the ideal positions one requires is more clear.

4) How much is it?

In terms of price, a menstrual cup is the go-to for every woman out there who likes to save money! In India, a menstrual cup ranges between INR 500 to 4000 and lasts up to 10 years. You read it right, a good quality menstrual cup can be used for 5 to 10 years if it doesn’t have any tears or holes. Even if you buy a cup every 5 years, the amount you’d be saving is several thousands, typically spent on sanitary napkins or tampons.

5) What to buy and where?

You can easily find menstrual cups on any online shopping platform or big pharmacies. They come in two materials: silicon and rubber. Silicon is recommended for people who are latex sensitive otherwise any cup is okay. Coming to the brands Shecup, Divacup and Boondh are some popular brands available to women in India

6) Does it decrease my period time?

If you didn’t know, a woman bleeds only about 10 to 80 ml on an average during every cycle which is about 4-5 tablespoons of blood. Although not technical, menstrual cups for me personally have decreased the periods by a day as the cup collects all the blood.

7) Say bye to smelly napkins

Last but not the least, cups aren’t as smelly as napkins are and is a lot more comfortable. Cups collect blood which results in keeping away the foul smell.

So, if you’re considering a shift from sanitary napkins or tampons, I’d say go for it! Try it, see for yourself and then choose wisely.

 

Article by : Shailaja Mantha

5 FAQs on sexually transmitted diseases that you better know the answers to!

With silent giggles and nudges, everything about sex is usually discussed, except…. Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). We usually pretend like we know it all. But do we really know the answers to all those awkward and uncomfortable yet important questions about sex? We hear about safe sex. What is this safe sex and why is it important to have safe sex? Answering these questions and more, Being Positive, a non-profit organisation organises monthly in-person sexual health meetings in Bangalore. Below are the five most frequently asked questions to the doctors of Being Positive:

1. Do any Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) spread through smooching/ saliva? Does oral sex have higher risk for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)?

Yes, STIs such as syphilis, herpes, gonorrhea and chlamydia can be transmitted during smooching/saliva/oral sex. Rimming can also transmit hepatitis A and B, intestinal parasites like Giardia, and bacteria like E. coli. The chances of an HIV-negative person will get HIV from oral sex with an HIV-positive partner are extremely low. However, it is hard to know the exact risk because a lot of people who have oral sex also have anal or vaginal sex. The type of oral sex that may be the riskiest is mouth-to-penis oral sex. But the risk is still very low, and much lower than with anal or vaginal sex. Though the risk of HIV transmission through oral sex is low, several factors may increase that risk, including sores in the mouth or vagina or on the penis, bleeding gums, oral contact with menstrual blood, and the presence of other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

The risk of HIV transmission through oral sex is even lower if the HIV-negative partner is taking medicine to prevent HIV (pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP) or the HIV- positive partner is taking medicine to treat HIV (antiretroviral therapy or ART) and is virally suppressed.

2. This might sound silly, but we have extra thin condoms in market, are they safe to use?

Ultra-thin condoms aren’t more likely to break than regular condoms — like all condoms you can find in a drug store or health center, they’ve been rigorously tested for quality, and wouldn’t be on the market if they were more likely to break (that would make them defective).

There are lots of different kinds of condoms out there, in styles like ultra-thin and ribbed, and made of materials like latex, polyurethane, and polyisoprene. They all protect you from pregnancy and STDs, except for natural condoms like lambskin ones, which don’t protect so well against STDs. Condoms are much less likely to break when they’re put on correctly, and used with plenty of lubrication (natural or store bought) to reduce friction. So if you’re concerned about the possibility of the condom breaking, you can prepare by learning how to put on a condom, and buying some lube like K-Y, Astroglide, and ID Glide, which you can get in most drug stores.

Following these guidelines when using any kind of condom will help avoid blowouts or slip-ups:

  •  Keep the condoms out of direct sunlight and away from exposure to high temperatures.
  •  Check expiration dates.
  •  Make sure the package is sealed and has no holes — make sure you can feel an air pocket in each package.
  •  Open the package right before you need it, and use your fingers (not your teeth, which can tear the condom).
  •  Stick with water- or silicone-based lubes rather than oil-based ones.

3. Heard frequent anal sex leads to anal cancer, is it true and how to identify its symptoms?

Yes. Anal sex can lead to infection with human papilloma virus (HPV). HPV infection isn’t cancer but can cause changes in the body that lead to cancer. HPV infections usually go away by themselves but having an HPV infection can cause certain kinds of cancer to develop. These include cervical cancer in women, penile cancer in men, and anal cancer in both women and men. HPV can also cause cancer in the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils .All of these cancers are caused by HPV infections that did not go away. Cancer develops very slowly and may not be diagnosed until years, or even decades, after a person initially gets infected with HPV. Currently, there is no way to know who will have only a temporary HPV infection, and who will develop cancer after getting HPV.

Certain men are more likely to develop HPV-related cancers:

  • Men with weak immune systems (including those with HIV) who get infected with HPV are more likely to develop HPV-related health problems.
  • Men who receive anal sex are more likely to get anal HPV and develop anal cancer.

However, some healthcare providers do offer anal Pap tests to men who may be at increased risk for anal cancer, including men with HIV or men who receive anal sex. If you have symptoms and are concerned about cancer, please see a healthcare provider.

There are two steps you can take to lower your chances of getting HPV and HPV- related diseases:

  • Get vaccinated
  • Use condoms

The HPV vaccine is recommended for the following men (2 doses 6 to 12 months apart)

  • All boys at age 11 or 12 years (or as young as 9 years)
  • Older boys through age 21 years, if they did not get vaccinated when they were younger
  • Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men through age 26 years, if they did not get vaccinated when they were younger
  • Men with HIV or weakened immune systems through age 26 years, if they did not get vaccinated when they were younger.

4. What are the chances of getting HIV for men who have Sexually Transmitted Diseases?

If you get an STD you are more likely to get HIV than someone who is STD-free. This is because the same behaviors and circumstances that may put you at risk for getting an STD can also put you at greater risk for getting HIV. In addition, having a sore or break in the skin from an STD may allow HIV to more easily enter your body.

Activities that can put you at risk for both STDs and HIV:

  • Having anal, vaginal, or oral sex without a condom;
  • Having multiple sex partners;
  • Having anonymous sex partners;
  • Having sex while under the influence of drugs or alcohol can lower inhibitions and result in greater sexual risk-taking.

5. Safe sex would help prevent from getting HIV, however are there any vaccinations that may help preventing getting STDs?

There are safe and effective vaccines recommended against hepatitis B, human papilloma virus (HPV), and hepatitis A. Kindly speak to your doctor to see if you can receive them.

Note: Currently, there is no vaccine against HIV, but there are some antiretro viral medicines that are used as PrEP (pre exposure prophylaxis). PEP (post exposure prophylaxis) to be taken within 72 hrs of exposure and to be continued for a month.

Editor’s note: Being Positive next meeting is on relationships and sexual problems on July 15, 2017 between 5.30-7.30pm. 

Venue: HRC clinic, #J97, New no 27, Anjneya Block, 2nd cross Sheshadripiram , Bangalore -20

For more details, you can write to them at  hivinfohealth@gmail.com or call on 8826452691

Things you should know before use a pregnancy test kit

If you have more doubts:Write to us at hiddenpocketsinfo@gmail.com
WhatsApp us at +918861713567

It is a known fact that no method of birth control is absolutely foolproof, and all it takes for someone to get pregnant is a single sperm! With that given, if you are someone who is sexually active, even a delay of a day or two in the arrival of your period can make you panic. The first thought one would have is probably that of a pregnancy. Whether or not you are hoping for it, you would definitely want to know what is going on with your body. And that is exactly what an at-home pregnancy test kit was invented for!

Here are a few things you should know about pregnancy test kits before you use one-

1) How they work

All at-home pregnancy test kits work by detecting a hormone called human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) in the urine. This hormone is produced by the developing placenta after fertilization takes place. The fiber strip of the test is coated with a chemical that reacts with hCG to change colour and produce result. Here are a few tips that you should keep in mind while using hCG kits:

  • An hCG kit should be stored between 4° C to 25° C for maintaining shelf life. Preferably, it should be refrigerated before use.
  • It should be brought to room temperature before use.
  • Some brands claim higher accuracy than the others, which might not be necessarily true. What does affect the quality of the pregnancy test kit is the way it is stored. The result will not be accurate if the kit is faulty, damaged or expired. Thus, it is advised that you buy the kits from a store that actively sells and restocks pregnancy test kits.
  • Avoid any form of liquid intake before testing for pregnancy.

Want to know when should we be using the pregnancy test kit :

Pregnancy Test Calculator

2) There is a slight chance of inaccuracy

Most pregnancy test kits claim to be about 99% accurate. However, under certain conditions, the results might be imprecise. There can be two case scenarios when it comes to inaccurate results; it could either be a false positive or a false negative. The latter out of these two is more likely to happen. For example, if you are testing too early in your pregnancy, the kit might say ‘negative’ even if you actually are pregnant. This might happen due to the fact that that your hCG levels are not high enough to be detected. Also, consumption of excessive amounts of fluid before testing may dilute the urine, producing inexact result. To avoid these kinds of situations, it is advised that you take the test a day or two after the missed period, since the hCG levels would have risen to a detectable point.

False positives occur very rarely. These might occur in the case of ‘biochemical pregnancy’ wherein the chemical imbalance in the body causes the hCG levels to rise and give the false impression of a pregnancy. Similarly, ‘ovarian tumour’ can cause the secretion of hCG which can be the reason behind a false positive test result. In some cases, false positives can occur in the case of early miscarriage of pregnancy wherein traces of hCG would be left behind but there would be no living embryo. Consumption of fertility drugs which induce higher levels of hCG also might cause false positive results.

To get accurate results, one has to take multiple tests(preferably 2-5) at different time intervals. If your test turns out to be negative but you still haven’t received your period, you might have to take another test a week later. Although the test can be taken during any time of the day, it is said that the best time to test is early morning as the urine is more concentrated and hormones levels will be higher, and thus sensitive to detection.

3) There are different types of pregnancy test kits

There are a few variations of pregnancy test kits available in the market. These include-

  • Standard kits: These are the ones that show results by changing color of the strip.
  • Digital kits: These pregnancy test kits have a screen on which printed letters that either read out ‘pregnant’ or ‘not pregnant’ appear. Some of them use other symbols which are usually mentioned on the instructions leaflet. Digital tests are more expensive than standard kits but are more accurate and facilitate the clear reading of results which the standard kits sometimes fail to provide one with.

Variations also exist in the way urine is collected by the kit. While the most common type of pregnancy test kit comes with a test strip or dipstick, a few brands also offer a second type which comes with a urine collection cup.

4) There is a difference between ovulation predictor kits and pregnancy test kits

Ovulation predictor kits and pregnancy test kits work in different ways. While the former observes an increase in the luteinizing hormone, which occurs before a woman ovulates, the latter looks for increase in HCG levels. Although ovulation predictor kits are used by women to test whether they are ovulating or not, they can also be used as pregnancy test kits because both of these hormones work similarly in the body. However, if you decide to use an ovulation predictor kit to detect pregnancy, it would be better to confirm the result by using a pregnancy test kit itself.

5) Timing matters!

If you’re going to the chemist to buy a pregnancy test, chances are, you want an answer ASAP. But earlier isn’t better when it comes to reliability since HCG doubles every 48 hours. It is recommend testing no sooner than a day or two before your missed period – if not the day of – to allow your body enough time to accumulate HCG in the case that you are pregnant. Even then, there’s room for error since your body may secrete HCG later or more slowly than average.

Whenever you decide to test, boost your chances of detecting HCG by taking it first thing in the morning when your urine is most concentrated.

Timing is equally important when you’re waiting for the test to develop so wait for complete time to know the exact results.  If the package says two minutes, then you really have to wait the full two minutes before you know.

How soon should you take the test?

You should wait to take a pregnancy test until the week after your missed period for the most accurate result.

If you don’t want to wait until you’ve missed your period, you should wait at least one to two weeks after you had sex. If you are pregnant, your body needs time to develop detectable levels of HCG. This typically takes seven to 12 days after successful implantation of an egg.

You may receive an inaccurate result if the test is taken too early in your cycle.

Some pregnancy test kits available in the Indian market

Since the past few decades, women have increasingly started to depend on at-home pregnancy test kits rather than clinical tests as the former provide them with comfort and privacy. A number of companies dealing with products related to sexual health and wellness have started manufacturing pregnancy test kits. Here is a list of a few popular brands from which you can choose what suits you best-

1)I Can- I Will Pregnancy Test: Manufactured by Piramal Healthcare Ltd, ‘I Can- I Will Pregnancy Test’ is a one step pregnancy detection kit. It is easily available on online platforms as well as pharmacy outlets. A pack of 3 kits is priced at 144.80/- .

2)Getnews One Step Pregnancy Test: ‘Getnews One Step Pregnancy Test’ is manufactured by Nectar Lifesciences Ltd. A pack of 5 kits is priced at Rs. 350/-. It is commonly available on both online platforms as well as pharmacy outlets.

3)PregaNews Pregnancy Test Strips: This pregnancy test kit is manufactured by Manforce Pharmaceuticals. Each pack kit is priced at Rs. 49/-. You can find it on online stores as well as in pharmacy outlets.

4)Pregakem Pregnancy Detection Kit: This brand is manufactured by Alkem Healthcare Ltd. A pack of 5 kits is priced at Rs. 228/-. It is selectively available in pharmacy outlets and commonly available on online platforms.

5)First Response Pro Digital Pregnancy Test Kit: This digital pregnancy test kit is Bluetooth enabled and connects with its smartphone app, which provides pregnancy and cycle details. It claims that it can show the results 6 days sooner than the woman’s missed period. Each kit is priced at Rs. 1452/-. It is only available on online platforms and not pharmacy outlets.

 

About the writer:

Purnima P.V is pursuing History(Hons) from Miranda House, University of Delhi. Although a huge history buff, sociology is her one true love. She is also a photographer by passion. She describes herself as an ambivert, an amateur traveler, an avid reader with a special interest in the genre of fictional non-fantasy, a politically opinionated feminist, and an ally as well as a member of the LGTBQIA community.

 

 

5 things that you might not know about condoms and safe sex

“But won’t it ruin the sex?”
“What if I have an allergic reaction towards latex?”
“Why do I need a condom? I only have sex with safe people.”
“Why should I use condoms when there are cost-free alternatives like the ‘pull-out method’ or the ‘calculation of safe days’?”

These are the types of dubious assumptions both men and women have about condoms. The history of condoms is still vague since nobody really knows for sure when the usage of condoms began. But what we do know now for sure is that the invention of condoms has been the greatest blessing to the sex lives of so many. It has contributed to betterment of the sexual health of innumerable people. Condoms not only provide protection against unwanted pregnancies, but are also extremely potent when it comes to reducing the risk of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) such as gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, and HIV/AIIDS by blocking exchange of sexual fluids. No form of protection is effective in totality, but condoms come close. Despite the fact that condoms are actually the most accessible and commonly used form of birth control, they are still more mysterious to many! So here is a list of 5 facts about condoms that will help you bust the myths that revolve around them:

1) Condoms do not really affect the quality of sex

A number of surveys and studies prove that men are capable of getting an erection and having intercourse without any discomfort or complication even when a condom is being used. In fact, couples are reportedly just as satisfied with a condom in use as they would be without one. Condoms are designed in a number of sizes for better fit and can handle great amount of physical pressure, thus making them really effective. With serious risks such as unwanted pregnancies and STIs, using (or not using) condoms will bring significant consequences for a person’s sexual health. According to a survey published in Journal of Sex Research, 50.3% of the men use ‘It doesn’t feel good with a condom on’ as an excuse to escape from wearing one. However, the fact about condoms affecting the quality of sex is actually not a fact; rather, it’s an old wives’ (or husbands’, in this case) tale.

2) Female condoms are almost as efficient as male condoms

The female condom is the underdog of the decade, with inadequate spotlight being thrown on it. It first came around in 1992 in the U.S. and became available in Europe a few years later. The female condom is a lubricated sheath with flexible rings at each end and it acts as a shield from sperm and STIs by completely lining the vagina. There are two types based on the material: 1) FC1 made of polyurethane and 2) FC2, made of nitrile, which is a non-latex material. The female condom can be inserted as early as eight hours before the intercourse. It is said to increase sexual pleasure, and that’s been getting female condom some attention with men. Female condoms are thus an effective way of protection against pregnancy and diseases. So the next time you feel like trying something out of the box or breaking the monotony, female condoms are your go-to option. More power to women!

3) There are different types of condoms to fit your personal requirement

Choosing what suits one best from the wide range of condoms available is important for practicing safe sex. Condoms are divided into four categories on the basis of the material which is used to make them. These are-
Latex condoms: This is the most widely used condom type. Latex is a type of rubber that is extracted from plant resources. Latex condoms are very effective in preventing pregnancy and protecting against STIs. However, the effectiveness of the condom is reduced when it comes in contact with oils.
Polyurethane condoms: This is the go-to option for people who have an allergy to latex. Polyurethane is a type of plastic. The condoms made out of this are thinner, yet stronger and looser than the latex ones.
Polyisoprene condoms: For people who have latex and/or polyurethane allergies, this is the best option available. Polyisoprene is synthetically produced. It is equally effective in protecting against unwanted pregnancies and STIs. However, the increased thickness of these condoms can be said to be their only con.
Lambskin condoms: These are not literally made from lambskin, but they are made from animal intestines. Although this is a viable option for people who suffer from latex allergy, it would still be better to go for a polyisoprene female condom than use condoms made out of this material. The reason behind this is that even though lambkin condoms can effectively protect against pregnancy and diseases like chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphillis, they are not as effective in the case of HIV/AIIDS. Female condoms in this case would work more effectively.

Condom are available in different sizes. They come in different sizes such as small, standard, regular, medium and large. So if a condom feels uncomfortable to you, you are probably not using the right size. So ‘it doesn’t fit’ will not be an excuse enough to chuck the rubber!

4) There is a proper way to store condoms

Condoms should be stored in a cool, dry place away from the sunlight and sharp objects which could directly damage them (like sitting for too long with a condom in your back pocket. Ouch!). They should not be stored anywhere warmer than 100 degrees or cooler than 32 degrees Fahrenheit. It is also very important to keep in mind that expired condoms create a ‘touch-and-go’ situation and produce more risks when it comes to protection.

5) Incorrect usage can decrease the odds of protection

Although male condoms promise 98% effectiveness when it comes to protection against pregnancy, improper usage reduces the effectiveness to 82%. Similarly, the female condom can be effective up to 95% in preventing unwanted pregnancy when used properly. If it is not inserted correctly, it will be about 79% effective. Thus, people are advised to either be extremely careful of the instructions given for wearing a condom or use another birth control method along with the condom itself.

Know your condoms and take your pick!

Condoms are highly accessible and have proved to be the most practical form of protection against unwanted pregnancies and STIs. Since they are so in demand, there are a number of companies offering to sell condoms. They vary in quality, price and availability. Here is a list of some of the brands of condoms available in the Indian market for you to choose from-
1) Durex:  Durex produces latex as well as non-latex condoms. It is easily available on online platforms as well as pharmacy outlets. A pack of 10 condoms is priced at Rs. 165/-. You can choose what fits you from their wide range of products.
2) Manforce: Manforce offers latex as well as non-latex condoms. However, one should be careful while choosing the product. The flavored condoms of this brand are said to contain sugar which cause imbalance in pH levels of the vagina, causing irritation and discomfort. Manforce condoms are commonly available in pharmacy outlets as well as online platforms. A pack of 10 condoms is priced at Rs. 80/-
3) Kohinoor: Kohinoor variants come in both latex and non-latex using condoms. A pack of 10 condoms is priced at Rs. 72 /-
4) Velvet: Manufactured by HLL Lifecare Ltd, Velvet female condoms are made of Natural Rubber Latex. They have a shelf life of up to five years and they are the cheapest brand of female condoms available in India. They are selectively available in pharmacy outlets but commonly available on online platforms. A pack of 4 condoms is priced at Rs. 100/-
5) Cupid: This brand makes natural rubber latex female condoms. It comes with a flexible octagonal ring at open end polyurethane foam at the closed end. It is selectively available on both pharmacy outlets and online platforms. A pack of 4 condoms is priced at Rs.170/-

About the writer:

Purnima P.V is pursuing History(Hons) from Miranda House, University of Delhi. Although a huge history buff, sociology is her one true love. She is also a photographer by passion. She describes herself as an ambivert, an amateur traveler, an avid reader with a special interest in the genre of fictional non-fantasy, a politically opinionated feminist, and an ally as well as a member of the LGTBQIA community.

5 things about Emergency Contraceptive Pills that you might not know

“It just happened! So unexpected”

“We ran out of condoms at 11PM in the night!”

“It happened in a moment of passion!”

Whatever be your excuse for unprotected sex, if you have been in such a situation, more often than not you or your partner/boyfriend must have definitely gone looking for an emergency contraceptive pill the next morning.

Emergency Contraceptive Pills (ECPs), also known as morning-after pills, Plan-B and postcoital contraception, safely and effectively help reduce chances of pregnancy after unprotected intercourse and have proven to be a medical blessing for a number of women around the world.

Emergency oral contraception is used to prevent a pregnancy, not end one. They work primarily by delaying ovulation. Emergency contraception does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.

There has been a constant increase in the number of women who feel at ease using this method of emergency contraception. It has gained the trust and dependence of women from all over the world.

In India, regulations on these pills have changed frequently, so it can be quite confusing. But how well informed are we about ECPs? How often can you consume an ECP? More often than not, women are uncomfortable to discuss about these pills with their gynaecologists. So there is definitely a need to demystify the concept of Emergency Contraceptive Pills.

Here is a list of 5 things you might not know about these pills-

1) You can purchase them without ID or prescription

The government and the pharmacy firms started calling attention to Emergency Contraceptive Pills as an advantageous option for women since 2002, but made them available over the counters after 2005. You can get the pill over the counter without a prescription, at your local drugstore, making this Emergency Contraceptive option the most accessible and practical one.

You might feel embarrassed to go to a pharmacy and ask for the pills, but your uneasiness can take a back seat because your safety is much more important. It is understandable that making your sex life transparent to a stranger seems like a bad idea, but the pharmacist has heard it all before and will try his/her best to make you feel reassured.

2) They cannot be used as abortion pills, regular birth control pills or protection against STI’s

A lot of misconceptions revolve around Emergency Contraceptive Pills among women.  Three regular myths about ECPs are:

ECPs cause abortion: Commonly available brands in India contain Levonorgestrel as their component, which is a progestin. ‘Progestin’ in the case of these pills is a synthetic steroid hormone which prevents pregnancy by inhibiting ovulation, altering transport of sperm or eggs to prevent fertilization, or altering the lining of the uterus to prevent implantation if fertilization occurs. However, it will not terminate an existing pregnancy as Levonorgestrel is not physiologically capable of doing that.

ECPs provide protection against STIs: Another common misconception among the users is regarding the ability of these pills to provide protection against Sexually Transmitted Diseases. These pills do not serve this function.

ECPs can be used as everyday birth control pills: Emergency Contraceptive Pills are chemically different from the regular birth control pills and do not serve the same purpose. While it is safe to use these pills often, you might want to consider other birth control options if you find yourself using them a lot.

3) The morning-after pills can be used even when other means of birth control are already in use

You may use the pill in case of failure of the proper usage of any other type of birth control method during any time of the cycle. For example, you can use it if you are unsure about whether you missed a dosage or two of your regular birth control pills, if you forgot to substitute your ring or patch, if you miscalculated ‘safe days’, or in the incidence of ripping of the condom. Usage of ECP in cases like these will produce no added harmful effects. In fact, ECPs were made especially to help in specific situations like these.

4) There are be a number of probable side effects

You could also experience one or more side effects after consuming an ECP. The kind of side effects that women experience generally differs from individual to individual, as each body reacts to differently. Common side effects include headache, nausea, abdominal pain, dizziness, fatigue, mood changes, vaginal discharge, decreased libido, hot flushes and irregular menstrual cycle. Some rare side effects may also call for medical attention. These include chest pain, shortness of breath, eye problems like blurring of vision, severe leg or arm pain and severe abdominal pain. However, all the alarming side effects mentioned on the back of the pack do not necessarily happen to most people. In fact, most women do not feel any side effects at all and the pills are well tolerated by the body.

5) Plan B is not absolutely potent and there will still be a chance of pregnancy

On an average, in case of most pills, ECPs promise about 80-95% effectiveness if consumed within the period of efficacy that is 72 hours. So no form of Emergency Contraception is 100% functional, although IUCD comes close with an effectiveness rate of 99.9% when inserted within five days of unprotected sex. The copper coil is toxic to eggs and sperm, so it stops the egg from being fertilized. If the fertilization has already taken place, it prevents the fertilized eggs from getting attached to the womb. However, the Levonorgestrel ​pill remains the most common form of Emergency Contraceptive and the IUCD is lesser known than the pill itself.

Nonetheless, it does not mean that you should refrain from the use of the pills in the case of requirement. If you follow the instructions carefully, the odds of effectiveness are quite high and you would get the desired outcome, which is prevention of pregnancy.

There are multiple brands of Emergency Contraceptive Pills available in the Indian market. Here is a list of the most common and highly selling pill brands and their related information*:

  • I -Pill– This is the most popular brand of Emergency Contraceptive Pills available in India. It is commonly available in all pharmacy outlets. It is priced at Rs.110/- and promises 80-90% effectiveness. Single dose should be consumed within 72 hours of unprotected sex.
  • Unwanted 72– This is another popular brand which is available in all pharmacy outlets. It costs Rs.80/- and is potent up to 95% if taken within 24 hours of unprotected sex. If it is taken between 24 to 48 hours, it is 85% effective. It is least effective when taken between 48 to 72 hours, with a rate of 58%.
  • Preventol– This brand has two doses in a single strip. For the contraceptive to be effective, both pills have to be consumed. The first pill should be consumed as soon as possible after unprotected intercourse. Second pill is to be consumed 12 hours after the first one. It is selectively available in pharmacy outlets. This brand promises 85-90% effectiveness.
  • Truston2– As in the case of Preventol, this brand also comes with two tablets in a single strip and has to be consumed with the same instructions. It is selectively available in pharmacy outlets and it guarantees 80% effectiveness against pregnancy.
  • Pill 72– Pill 72 comes in a pack of two tablets. First pill should be consumed as soon as possible after unprotected sex and the second pill is to be consumed after 12 hours after the first one but only on doctor’s recommendation. It’s 80-90% effective and selectively available in the Indian market.

*Note: Information related to the different brands of Emergency Contraceptive Pills were collated after conversations with about 10 pharmacists.

About the writer:

Purnima P.V is pursuing History(Hons) from Miranda House, University of Delhi. Although a huge history buff, sociology is her one true love. She is also a photographer by passion. She describes herself as an ambivert, an amateur traveler, an avid reader with a special interest in the genre of fictional non-fantasy, a politically opinionated feminist, and an ally as well as a member of the LGTBQIA community.