Too embarrassed, too busy or just don’t know the right question? This page should cover a lot of aspects of what you need to know.


    Emergency contraception (morning after pill) is most effective when taken within 12-24 hours after unprotected sex. 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. For the best chance for it to work, you should take the emergency pill as soon as possible.

    Yes, you can use the emergency pill if something has gone wrong with your usual form of contraception, for example a forgotten pill (only if the intake is more than 48 hours ago) or split condom.

    Repeated administration within a menstrual cycle is not advisable because of the possibility of disturbance of the cycle and a very high hormone dose. The emergency pill (morning after 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. Emergency contraceptives (morning after pill) do not work if a woman is already pregnant. When taken before a woman has ovulated, emergency pills 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 6 days.

    No. Nearly all other contraceptive methods are more effective in preventing pregnancy. A woman who uses emergency contraceptives (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.

    No, emergency contraceptives (the morning after pill) contain either a combination of estrogen and progestin or progestin only, and work by delaying or inhibiting ovulation. It is not a method of abortion.

    Good evidence shows that emergency contraceptives (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.

    Emergency contraception (the morning after pill) mainly prevents pregnancy by stopping or delaying the ovaries from releasing an egg. If you’ve ovulated before taking the morning after pill, it won’t stop an egg meeting a sperm to create a pregnancy. It’s not a reliable everyday protection.

    The efficacy of emergency contraception (the morning after pill) 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.

    No, emergency contraceptives do not protect against sexually transmitted infections (including HIV). The only method protecting against sexually transmitted infections is a condom.

    Where to get emergency contraception (the morning after pill) depends on the country you live in. Some sell it over the counter without a prescription, others demand a doctor’s visit first. Talk to your health care provider or pharmacy to find out.

    Women who take emergency contraceptives (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, after the intake of emergency contraception (the morning after pill) you’re not protected for the following days, actually on the contrary! Because the morning after pill delays ovulation to prevent a fertilization in that moment when unprotected sex happened. Delay means: the ovulation happens at a later time – maybe exactly at the next time you have sex. So pregnancy can definitely happen.





    A coalition of international partners with an interest in sexual and reproductive health