Sexual Health news - Sexual Health and Behavior

Emergency contraceptives reported to prevent pregnancy differently than websites proclaim

Emergency contraceptives, also known as morning-after-pills, are a widely known and can be used immediately or up to five days after unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy. Recently, the New York Times conducted an investigation that may have implications for the ongoing debate over whether the method of birth control may be considered abortive.

Reputable organizations' websites - the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the Mayo Clinic - previously stated that emergency contraceptives, such as Plan B, prevent pregnancy - but not sexually transmitted diseases -  by blocking a fertilized egg from implanting on the uterine wall.

Pills found not to influence fertilized eggs

The New York Times revealed that unlike what is listed on the NIH and Mayo Clinic websites, the drug's label provides a different method of contraception. The Food and Drug Administration-approved label says that emergency contraceptive pills delay ovulation - the process in which the ovaries release an egg to be fertilized. The pills may also thicken cervical mucus, making it difficult for sperm to swim up to the egg.

By this definition, the egg is not fertilized. Pro-choice advocates say this can not be considered an abortion if the drug is only preventing fertilization from occurring, in response to pro-life advocates proclaiming them as abortive. After the investigation, the NIH and the Mayo Clinic both changed the information previously listed on their website.

Pills like Plan B should not be confused with RU-486, which is a drug that specifically terminates pregnancies by destroying the implanted embryo. 

The debate over emergency contraception and abortion is a controversial topic of discussion in the upcoming presidential election.