Thursday, May 11, 2006

RU 486 and the Morning After Pill - They are not the same

David Barnes has claimed that the RU 486 pill and the Morning After Pill are both the same. They are not.

The morning after pill is a contraceptive.  RU-486 is also known as the "abortion pill", and is a hormone that triggers an abortion.

Q. What's the Difference Between RU-486 and Morning After Pill?  From Nikki Katz, Your Guide to Women's Issues. FREE GIFT with Newsletter! Act Now!

A. The Emergency Contraception Pill, or morning after pill, is a pill that is available as a combination of estrogen-progestin, or progestin only (Plan B is one brand name of this). These are the exact same medications that are contained in normal, daily, birth control pills. They work to inhibit ovulation, fertilization, and implantation of the egg in the uterus. Emergency ! Contracpetion does not work if a fertilized egg has already implanted (i.e. the woman is pregnant). The pill can be used within 72 hours of sex to prevent a pregnancy. RU-486, or abortion pill, is a pill taken in combination with prostaglandin. Ru-486 is a high dose of mifepristone, which works to block the creation of progesterone, a hormone that is necessary to create and sustain pregnancy. This triggers the uterus to shed its lining and opens the cervix. 2-7 days later, misoprostol is given to cause the uterus to contract and expel the embryo. It can be used within 49 days since the last menstrual period as a medical abortion.

Further information can be found at

Is the morning after and RU486 pill different?

A: Absolutely! This is a pet peeve ! of mine. I believe it's extremely important for people to understand.

RU486 is an abortion pill. It is a very powerful progesterone-blocking agent that, typically given with another medication, is extremely effective in inducing an abortion. Abortion is legal in this country and as part of the menu of options for inducing abortion, this pill has been made available. However, it requires special training of the physician in order for it to be given.

The morning-after pill is in fact the usual contraceptive pill given in slightly higher doses and it works in the same manner as the contraceptive bill.

Contraceptive pills work primarily by preventing ovulation. They basically trick your body into believing that you are pregnant so that the pituitary gland never releases a hormone which causes an ovum to be released from the ovary. Overwhelming evidence suggests that is exactly how the morning-after pill works.

The morning-after pill is given within 72 hours of an unprotected sexual encounter. Taken within 24 hours, it ! is 90-plus percent effective; taken within the first 48 hours, it is over 80 percent effective, and, if taken within the first 72 hours, it is overall 70 percent effective in preventing pregnancy.

Almost certainly by the same mechanism, pregnancy occurs within the 24 hours of releasing the egg. Sperm, however, can be available for conception for up to 72 hours after the intercourse occurs. If an egg has already been released at the time that there is sexual intercourse, pregnancy will occur and this pill probably will have no effect on that pregnancy -- certainly no deleterious effect. If the egg has yet to be released, this pill will prevent that from occurring during that 72-hour window when the sperm could cause a conception.

There is some argument as to whether one of the mechanisms whereby this pill works is through altering the lining of the uterus to make it inhospitable to implantation of a fertilized egg. I am strongly of the opinion that the m! orning-after pill is no more likely to work by this mechanism than th e oral contraceptive pill the way it is usually taken - and, for that matter, other anti-inflammatory agents such as Vioxx or Celebrex.


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