Emergency Contraceptive Pills

Emergency contraception is a way to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex. It’s sometimes called the morning-after pill, emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs) are pills that can be taken up to 5 days after having unprotected sex. Some types of emergency contraception work best when taken within 72 hours (3 days) or 5 days after intercourse.

The IUD can sometimes be used as a form of emergency contraception.

How Does Emergency Contraception Work?

Emergency contraceptive pills work by delaying the release of an egg during the monthly cycle. If fertilization and implantation have already happened, ECPs will not interrupt the pregnancy.

How Well Does Emergency Contraception Work?

About 1 or 2 in every 100 women who use ECPs will become pregnant despite taking the pills within 72 hours after having unprotected sex.

The "morning-after" name is somewhat misleading: You don't have to wait until the next morning to take Emergency Contraceptive Pills. Emergency contraception is most effective when taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex.

Emergency contraception will not prevent pregnancy if unprotected sex happens after taking the ECPs.

Emergency contraception does not prevent all pregnancies. So a girl should see a doctor if she doesn't get her next expected period after taking Emergency Contraceptive Pills.

Does Emergency Contraception Help Prevent STDs?

No. Emergency contraception does not protect against STDs. Couples having sex must always use condoms to protect against STDs even when using another birth control method.

Are There Any Side Effects With Emergency Contraception?

Emergency Contraceptive Pills can cause some minor side effects for a few days, including:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • breast tenderness
  • headaches

These usually are minor, and most improve within 1 to 2 days. A girl's menstrual period may be temporarily irregular after she takes Emergency Contraceptive Pills.

Who Can Use Emergency Contraception?

Emergency contraception is an option for a couple if:

  • a condom breaks or slips off
  • a diaphragm or cervical cap
  • birth control pills are missed for 2 days in a row

Emergency Contraceptive Pills are also available to young women who are forced to have unprotected sex.

Emergency contraception is not recommended:

  • for females who know they are pregnant
  • as a regular birth control method (it's designed for emergencies)

Where Is Emergency Contraception Available?

Some types of emergency contraceptive pills are available over the counter at drugstores and pharmacies for anyone of any age without a prescription.

One type of emergency contraception (which works well up to 5 days after unprotected sex) is only available by prescription.

An IUD used for emergency contraception needs to be placed by a doctor or nurse practitioner. This can be done at a doctor's office or a health clinic, like Planned Parenthood.

How Much Does Emergency Contraception Cost?

Depending on the type of pills prescribed, ECPs cost between $20–$80. Many health insurance plans cover the cost of emergency contraception and family planning clinics (such as Planned Clinic) charge much less amount.

When Should I Call the Doctor?

Someone who uses emergency contraception should call the doctor if she:

  • might be pregnant
  • has a change in the smell or color of her vaginal discharge
  • has unexplained fever or chills
  • has belly or pelvic pain
  • has pain during sex
  • has heavy or long-lasting vaginal bleeding

Emergency contraceptive pills are also available in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, morning after pills in Qatar

Do emergency pills have side effects?

Disadvantages. Common side effects of emergency contraceptive pills are similar to those of birth control pills. They include nausea, abdominal pain, fatigue, headache, and menstrual changes. Breast tenderness, fluid retention, and dizziness may also occur. Side effects from the use of ECPs are similar to those of oral contraceptive pills, such as nausea and vomiting, slight irregular vaginal bleeding, and fatigue. Side effects are not common, they are mild, and will normally resolve without further medications.

How do you know if emergency pills worked?

The only way to know if the morning after pill has been effective at preventing pregnancy is if your next period arrives when it should. The morning after pill works by delaying ovulation so that you don't release an egg for remaining sperm in your system to fertilise.

Do emergency pills cause infertility?

Using emergency contraception (EC), also known as the morning-after pill, more than once does not affect a woman's fertility - and it will not prevent her from becoming pregnant in the future. Women should feel free to use EC whenever they think it's necessary.

Can emergency pills delay periods?

Using the morning-after pill may delay your period by up to one week. If you don't get your period within three to four weeks of taking the morning-after pill, take a pregnancy test. Normally, you don't need to contact your health care provider after using the morning-after pill.

When is the best time to take birth control pills morning or night?

The time you take your pill is very important, so it's good to find the optimal time for you. Dr. Yen recommends taking your pill right before bed because it can help dispel nausea some experience when taking the pill. If you take the pill on an empty stomach, you may be more likely to experience nausea.

How many days delayed to know you are pregnant?

If you don't want to wait until you've missed your period, you should wait at least one to two weeks after you had sex. If you are pregnant, your body needs time to develop detectable levels of HCG. This typically takes seven to 12 days after successful implantation of an egg.