Emergency contraception

Emergency contraception helps to prevent a pregnancy when taken up to five days after unprotected sex.

Emergency contraceptive pills are sometimes referred to as ‘the morning after pill’ or ‘Plan B’. The hormone(s) in the pills work by preventing or delaying the release of an egg from the ovaries. Emergency contraceptive pills are different from medical abortion pills – they do not cause an abortion

If you keep needing emergency contraception you should consider using a more regular contraceptive method.

  • How well does emergency contraception work?
    • In general, the sooner emergency contraception is used, the more effective it is at stopping a pregnancy. Emergency contraception should be used within five days to be most effective and has to be used after EVERY incident of unprotected sex.
    • How effective emergency contraception is depends on where you are in your menstrual cycle, how long ago you had unprotected sex, and what type of emergency contraception you use
    • However, taking emergency contraception after unprotected sex is not as effective as using a regular contraceptive method
    • Emergency contraception does NOT work if you are already pregnant
  • What are the advantages of emergency contraception?
    • You can use emergency contraception as many times as you need to.
    • If emergency contraceptive pills are taken when already pregnant, they will not cause harm to the foetus.
    • There are no serious short or long-term side effects of emergency contraceptive pills
    • Your fertility will return to normal immediately after using emergency contraception
  • What are the disadvantages of emergency contraception?
    • Emergency contraceptive pills won’t continue to protect you from pregnancy. If you have unprotected sex again, you’re at risk of pregnancy
    • Emergency contraceptive pills may have some effect on bleeding, such as slight bleeding after taking it, or an earlier or later start of your period. Some users may also experience nausea, breast tenderness, fatigue, abdominal pain or headaches the week after taking it.
    • Condoms are the only contraceptive method which protect against sexually transmitted infections. To ensure protection from both pregnancy and infection, we recommend "dual protection". This means using a male or female condom in addition to the contraceptive method of your choice to prevent pregnancy.
  • How do I use emergency contraception?

    To use emergency contraception contact your provider as soon as possible after unprotected sex to fully discuss your options

  • What are the possible risks of using emergency contraception?

    There are no known risks associated with using emergency contraceptive pills