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morning after pill period

Emergencies grant little time for patience as a fight-or-flight response kicks in. We’re either running for the hills to flee from the issue or fighting to find a solution for it. Either way, we are compelled to take action—especially if you’re a woman who thinks she might be at risk of becoming pregnant. Even with active measures of protection, you could find yourself facing the possibility of an unplanned pregnancy. The unexpected can happen with certain situations such as missed birth control pills, a condom breaking or slipping off, unprotected sex, or sexual assault without protection. Maybe the “fight” response kicked in and you sought out emergency contraception methods. Now what? Just wait and see what happens next? Waiting can feel like an impossibility during an emergency situation, but there are times when playing the waiting game is exactly what’s needed.

If you think you might be pregnant, you don’t need to wait to find help. Avenue Women’s Center has been helping women face unplanned pregnancies in the DuPage County area since 1981. Avenue offers free and confidential pregnancy services as your first steps when you think you might be pregnant. Call, text, chat, or email us today to find out how our caring and nonjudgmental staff can help you face this challenging time.

Waiting to find out if you’re pregnant can feel like an eternity—especially when you aren’t certain if emergency contraception was effective. The morning-after pill can be highly effective when used as directed and taken as soon as possible after failed contraception methods. However, according to the Mayo Clinic, “the morning-after pill can fail even with correct use.” So a level of uncertainty and even panic are understandable as you wait to find out if you’re pregnant.

So how long do you wait?

After emergency contraception, your next period “may come sooner or later than normal,” as the Office on Women’s Health describes, with most women getting their period “within a week of the expected date.” The Mayo Clinic recommends taking a pregnancy test “if you don’t get your period within three to four weeks of taking the morning-after pill.” When your body and mind are riddled with the anxiety and stress of waiting, days and weeks can feel like the torture of a clock’s minute hand slowly ticking. But don’t reach for the panic button just yet!

What to expect while you wait

After taking emergency contraception, you might experience some reactions that can make the waiting period even more challenging to face. The morning-after pill can cause some common side effects within the first couple days of taking it, including nausea, vomiting, dizziness, fatigue, headaches, breast tenderness, irregular bleeding between periods, heavier-than-normal menstrual bleeding, and lower abdominal pain/cramps. However, the Mayo Clinic suggests contacting your health care provider “if you have bleeding or spotting that lasts longer than a week,” or if you “develop severe lower abdominal pain three to five weeks after taking the morning-after pill,” as these symptoms can possibly indicate a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy.

Get all the facts before you panic

When it comes to an emergency, learning all the facts can help ease your mind. Speaking with your doctor or a medical professional can help address your concerns about emergency contraception. Additionally, visit Avenue Women’s Center’s blog to learn more about how the morning-after pill works and the risks involved.

An emergency situation can be difficult to get through on your own. Let Avenue Women’s Center be a source of caring support as you face a potential unplanned pregnancy. Make an appointment at one of our five locations today to receive a free medical-grade pregnancy test with accurate results just 10 days after conception. Our compassionate and understanding staff will review the results with you in a safe and judgement-free environment.


  • Mayo Clinic. (2018, June). Morning-after pill. Retrieved from
  • plan B®. Paladin Labs Inc. (2018) WHAT TO EXPECT. Retrieved from
  • The Office on Women’s Health. (2018, October). Emergency contraception. Retrieved from

Reviewed by Patricia Kuenzi, APN-CNP, MSN, ANP, PNP.

The information provided here is general in nature.  It is not a substitute for a consultation with a medical professional. Before any medical procedure, it is imperative that you discuss your personal medical history, risks, and concerns with your doctor. If you have questions during or after a procedure, your doctor should be immediately contacted. Avenue Women’s Center is not an emergency center.  If you are experiencing severe symptoms, such as bleeding and/or pain, seek immediate medical attention.  Contact your physician, go to an emergency room, or call 911.