Hormonal Method

Emergency contraceptives are hormone-based pills that are used in the event of accidental unprotected sex.


Hormonal Method

Emergency contraceptives are hormone-based pills that are used in the event of accidental unprotected sex.




Highly effective when used as directed

Emergency care

Widely available



    Emergency contraceptives are often called the morning after pill. They were invented for exactly that, the morning after the night before when something did not quite go to plan. Accidents happen in all walks of life and sex is no different. Emergency contraceptives (morning after pill) can offer you a second chance to prevent pregnancy after having had unprotected sex.

    An emergency pill typically contains hormones that are similar to oral contraceptives, but are much higher dosed. It works mainly by stopping or delaying the ovaries from releasing an egg. It may also work by changing the lining of the womb that may prevent implantation of a fertilized egg. For the best chance for it to work, you should take the emergency pill as soon as possible after unprotected sex. Ideally you should take it up to 12 hours after you’ve had unprotected sex but if it’s taken more than 24 hours after unprotected sex, it’s already much less effective.

    Emergency contraception is most effective when taken within 12-24 hours after unprotected sex. There are 2 types of emergency pills in the market: the emergency contraceptive pill containing levonorgestrel (LNG) and the emergency contraceptive pill containing ulipristal acetate (UPA). For the best chance for it to work, you should take the emergency pill as soon as possible. Efficacy changes over time: while it’s 95% effective within the first 24 hours after unprotected sex, that number drops to 58% when the pill is taken within 49-72 hours.

    The levonorgestrel emergency contraceptive pill should not be used in the same menstrual cycle as ulipristal acetate. After using emergency contraception you should use another form of contraception for the rest of your cycle to protect yourself if you do not want to become pregnant.

    Emergency Contraceptives - Hormonal Method
    How to use Emergency Contraceptives

    HOW TO

    Emergency contraceptives (the morning after pill) are not like the other contraception methods. Emergency contraception should never be the contraception that you choose to use regularly, it is not a method that you pick and say, “I think this is the one for me, I’ll take 10 please”. Emergency contraception is a back-up method only for emergencies, for that one time the condom broke, or the diaphragm slipped or other genuine accidents or unforeseen circumstances. If you’re unfortunate enough to have one of these, immediately visit your healthcare provider to seek further advice. Don’t forget to get yourself tested for STIs, too. These unfortunate accidents expose you to those as well as unplanned pregnancy.



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      The emergency pill must be taken within 72 hours (three days) after unprotected sex. The sooner it is taken, the more effective it is. It is most effective if it is taken within the first 12 hours after unprotected sex.

      Repeated administration within a menstrual cycle is not advisable because of the possibility of disturbance of the cycle. The emergency pill should not be relied on as a regular form of contraception, and it is not as effective as other forms of hormonal contraception specifically made for regular use - it is only intended as a back-up.

      No, the pill contains either a combination of estrogen and progestin or progestin only, and works by delaying or inhibiting ovulation. It is not a method of abortion.

      Yes, you can use the emergency pill if something has gone wrong with your usual form of contraception, for example a forgotten pill or split condom.

      No. ECPs do not work if a woman is already pregnant. When taken before a woman has ovulated, ECPs prevent the release of an egg from the ovary or delay its release by 5 to 7 days. By then, any sperm in the woman's reproductive tract will have died, since sperm can survive there for only about 5 days.

      Good evidence shows that ECPs will not cause birth defects and will not otherwise harm the fetus if a woman is already pregnant when she takes ECPs or if ECPs fail to prevent pregnancy.

      Women who take ECPs should understand that they could become pregnant the next time they have sex unless they begin to use another method of contraception at once. Because ECPs delay ovulation in some women, she may be most fertile soon after taking ECPs. If she wants ongoing protection from pregnancy, she must start using another contraceptive method at once.

      No. Nearly all other contraceptive methods are more effective in preventing pregnancy. A woman who uses ECPs regularly for contraception is more likely to have an unintended pregnancy than a woman who uses another contraceptive regularly. Still, women using other methods of contraception should know about ECPs and how to obtain them if needed—for example, if a condom breaks or a woman misses 3 or more combined oral contraceptive pills.


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