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Emergency Contraception


 This is the term used for contraception used AFTER you have already had sex. There are two types of pills used, sometimes called the "morning after pill". Alternatively an intrauterine contraceptive device (IUCD) can be fitted, which is even more effective.

The progestogen pill

Also called Morning- after pill. It is available at many drug stores as an over the counter product and at the moment in India a prescription is not required to buy these pills.

When take it and how does it work?

Take the pill as soon as possible after unprotected sex. The earlier you take the pill, the more effective it is. It should be taken within 72 hours . It is thought to work mainly by preventing the release of an egg from your ovary. It is not thought to cause an abortion.

How effective is the progestogen pill?

It is difficult for scientists to work out exactly how effective it is. If 1,000 women had unprotected sex once, around 60 to 80 would become pregnant. If all those women had taken the pill, only around 11 to 26 would have become pregnant.

Ulipristal acetate pill

Ulipristal acetate is another type of emergency contraceptive pill that is taken as one single tablet.

When do I take it and how does it work?

Take the pill as soon as possible after unprotected sex. The earlier you take the pill, the more effective it is. It can be taken up to 120 hours (five days) after having unprotected sex. It is a type of hormone which seems to work by stopping release of an egg (ovulation).

How effective is ulipristal acetate?

It may be very slightly more effective, particularly when taken between 3-5 days after sex.

Some reasons why pills are less likely to be successful

  • If you take the progestogen pill more than 72 hours or the ulipristal pill more than 120 hours after unprotected sex.

  • If you vomit within three hours of taking the pill.

  • If you also had unprotected sex at an earlier time or again after the pill.

The intrauterine contraceptive device (IUCD)

An alternative method is to have an IUCD inserted.This can be done up to five days after sex. It has the advantage of providing ongoing contraception.It is nearly 100% effective.

An important message

See a doctor urgently if you have any lower tummy pain or abnormal bleeding in the 2-6 weeks following use of emergency contraception. These are the main symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy. Also, do a pregnancy test or see a doctor if your next due period is more than seven days late.


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