Preparations

1. Menstrual bleeding typically occurs within three days after administration of most forms of hormonal postcoital contraception. A pregnancy test should be performed if bleeding has not occurred within four weeks.

2. Preven Emergency Contraceptive Kit includes four combination tablets, each containing 50 :g of ethinyl estradiol and 0.25 mg of levonorgestrel, and a pregnancy test to rule out pregnancy before taking the tablets. Instructions are to take two of the tablets as soon as possible within 72 hours of coitus, and the other two tablets twelve hours later.

3. An oral contraceptive such as Ovral (two tablets twelve hours apart) or Lo/Ovral (4 tablets twelve hours apart) can also be used.

4. Nausea and vomiting are the major side effects. Meclizine 50 mg, taken one hour before the first dose, reduces nausea and vomiting but can cause some sedation.

5. Plan B is a pill pack that contains two 0.75 mg tablets of levonorgestrel to be taken twelve hours apart. The cost is comparable to the Preven kit ($20). This regimen may be more effective and better tolerated than an estrogen-progestin regimen.

6. Copper T380 IUD. A copper intrauterine device (IUD) placed within 120 hours of unprotected intercourse can also be used as a form of emergency contraception. An advantage of this method is that it provides continuing contraception after the initial event.

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