Can Birth Control Pills Kill a Fertilized Egg? Unraveling the Misconception

Aarohi Batra
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Kaushal

Review medical content on WOW Rx Pharmacy, so that accurate drug use information is easily accessible to everybody.
Dr. Akansha is a licensed Clinical Pharmacologist. She possesses remarkable knowledge in Pharmacovigilance, prescription analysis, drug information, and drug safety services. Additionally, she is a keen learner and an educator.

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can birth control pills kill a fertilized egg (1)

Birth control pills, a prevalent form of contraception, are sometimes confused with the abortion pill. 

There are misconceptions surrounding their mechanism of action, leading to misunderstandings about their effects on pregnancy.

While birth control pills are commonly used to prevent pregnancy by inhibiting ovulation, the abortion pill is designed to terminate an existing pregnancy.  

Some individuals question whether birth control pills can potentially terminate a fertilized egg.

In this article, we will explore “Can birth control pills kill a fertilized egg” and the misconceptions about it. 

The function of birth control

To dispel the confusion, it’s crucial to understand that birth pills are designed to prevent pregnancy, not terminate it. 

Different forms of contraception work in various ways, but none are intended to act as abortion medications. 

While personal beliefs about when conception occurs may vary, scientifically, pregnancy officially begins at implantation, not fertilization.

Fact:
Implantation typically occurs about 6–7 days after fertilization and can take 3-4 days to complete.

Preventing pregnancy, not terminating it

Woman holding birth control pillsSource: Signature_images
Woman holding birth control pills

Contrary to common misconceptions, birth control pills do not terminate existing pregnancies. 

Instead, they aim to prevent pregnancy by inhibiting ovulation, thickening cervical mucus, or thinning the uterine lining. 

It’s essential to recognize that these methods are not abortion techniques but rather preventive measures.

Recommended Article
To know whether taking birth control pills during pregnancy can cause any harm, read Debunking Myths: Can Taking Birth Control Pills While Pregnant Cause a Miscarriage?

Emergency contraception

Emergency contraception, or “morning-after pill,” is another area of confusion. 

These pills, such as Levonorgestrel-based or ulipristal acetate, are not abortion medications

They work by preventing ovulation, ensuring no egg is available for fertilization. 

Once the egg is fertilized and implanted, an emergency pill cannot stop the pregnancy or kill the fertilized egg.

Warning:
If you vomit within 2 hours of ingesting Levonelle, you must seek immediate medical advice, as this may increase the risk of unintended pregnancy. This may necessitate the administration of an additional dose or the fitting of an Intrauterine Device (IUD). 

Using birth control while pregnant

Research suggests that hormonal birth control is unlikely to harm a pregnancy or cause a miscarriage. 

However, due to ethical concerns, there is a lack of comprehensive studies on this matter.

It is advised to discontinue hormonal contraception, as sometimes it can cause wheezing, asthma, and rhinitis.

Conversely, if the decision is to terminate the pregnancy, hormonal contraception itself will not induce a miscarriage.

Conclusion

Understanding the function and mechanisms of birth control pills is essential in dispelling common misconceptions surrounding their potential impact on fertilized eggs. 

Scientifically, pregnancy is officially recognized at implantation, not fertilization, and birth control methods are designed to prevent pregnancy rather than terminate it. 

Contrary to popular belief, pills do not act as abortion medications but instead employ various preventive measures such as inhibiting ovulation or thickening cervical mucus.

Research suggests that hormonal birth control is unlikely to harm an established pregnancy, but discontinuing hormonal contraception is recommended if pregnancy is confirmed.

Birth control pills do not kill fertilized eggs, these methods are aimed at preventing pregnancy, and their use is distinct from abortion procedures.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can birth control pills terminate an early pregnancy?

No, standard birth control pills are not designed to terminate an existing pregnancy. Their primary mechanisms involve preventing pregnancy by inhibiting ovulation, thickening cervical mucus, or thinning the uterine lining. If a person is already pregnant, taking birth control pills will not terminate the pregnancy.

Can an emergency pill work if an egg is fertilized?

Emergency contraceptive pills, often known as the “morning-after pill,” primarily work by preventing ovulation or fertilization. They do not affect the pregnancy once the egg is fertilized. Emergency contraception is most effective when taken as soon as possible after unprotected intercourse, preferably within 72 hours. 

What happens if you take birth control while 2 weeks pregnant?

While hormonal birth control is unlikely to harm an established pregnancy, it is generally advisable to discontinue the use of birth control upon confirmation of pregnancy. Studies suggest sometimes birth control pills can cause wheezing, asthma, and rhinitis. It’s crucial to consult with doctors for personalized advice and guidance.

What’s the difference between abortion and contraception?

Abortion and contraception are distinct concepts of reproductive health. Contraception involves methods designed to prevent pregnancy before it occurs. On the other hand, abortion refers to the intentional termination of a pregnancy, typically after implantation. Abortion can be achieved through various methods, including medical (using medications) or surgical procedures. 

Citations:
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