FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Sometimes people are too embarrassed, too busy, or just don’t know the right questions. The questions on this page should cover a lot of aspects of what you need to know though.

Emergency Contraceptives

Answers

How long after having unprotected sex can I take the emergency pill?

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.

Can I use the morning after pill with any other forms of contraception, e.g. if I have forgotten to take my contraceptive pill?

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.

Is it safe to use the morning after pill more than once a month?

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.

Does emergency contraception disrupt an existing pregnancy?

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.

Should women use emergency contraception as a regular method of contraception?

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.

Will the emergency pill (morning after pill) cause me to have an abortion?

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.

Does emergency contraception cause birth defects? Will the fetus be harmed if a woman accidentally takes ECPs while she is pregnant?

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.

How does emergency contraception (the morning after pill) work?

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.

How efficient is emergency contraception (the morning after pill)?

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.

Does emergency contraception (the morning after pill) protect against sexually transmitted infections like HIV?

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

Where can I get the morning after pill?

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.

Does emergency contraception protect for future sex?

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.

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