Emergency contraceptive pills help to prevent pregnancy when taken up to 5 days after unprotected sex. The sooner they are taken, the better.
Do not disrupt an existing pregnancy.
Safe for all women—even women who cannot use ongoing hormonal contraceptive methods.
Provide an opportunity for women to start using an ongoing family planning method.
Many options can be used as emergency contraceptive pills. Dedicated products, progestin-only pills, and combined oral contraceptives all can act as emergency contraceptives.
Return of fertility after taking ECPs: No delay. A woman can become pregnant immediately after taking ECPs. Taking ECPs prevents pregnancy only from acts of sex that took place in the 5 days before. They will not protect a woman from pregnancy from acts of sex after she takes ECPs—not even on the next day. To stay protected from pregnancy, women must begin to use another contraceptive method at once
Protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs): None
Side Effects, Health Benefits, and Health Risks
Some users report the following:
l Changes in bleeding patterns including:
– Slight irregular bleeding for 1–2 days after taking ECPs
– Monthly bleeding that starts earlier or later than expected
In the week after taking ECPs:
l Abdominal pain
l Breast tenderness
l Known Health Benefits
l Help protect against:
l Risks of pregnancy
Known Health Risks
When to Start Contraception After ECP Use
Combined oral contraceptives, progestin-only pills, combined patch, combined vaginal ring
Can begin the day after she takes the ECPs. No need to wait for her next monthly bleeding.
l Oral contraceptives and vaginal ring:
– New users should begin a new pill pack or ring.
– A continuing user who needed ECPs due to error can resume use as before.
– All users should begin a new patch.
l All women need to use a backup method* for the first 7 days of using their method.
l She can start progestin-only injectables on the same day as the ECPs, or if preferred, within 7 days after the start of her monthly bleeding. She will need a backup method for the first 7 days after the injection. She should return if she has signs or symptoms of pregnancy other than not having monthly bleeding.
l She can start monthly injectables on the same day as the ECPs. There is no need to wait for her next monthly bleeding to have the injection. She will need a backup method for the first 7 days after the injection.
l After her monthly bleeding has returned. Give her a backup method or oral contraceptives to use until then, starting the day after she finishes taking the ECPs.
Intrauterine device (copper-bearing or hormonal IUDs)
l A copper-bearing IUD can be used for emergency contraception. This is a good option for a woman who wants an IUD as her long term method.
l If she decides to use an IUD after taking ECPs, the IUD can be inserted on the same day she takes the ECPs. No need for a backup method.
Male and female condoms, spermicides, diaphragms, cervical caps, withdrawal
Fertility awareness methods
l Standard Days Method: With the start of her next monthly bleeding.
l Symptoms-based methods: Once normal secretions have returned.
l Give her a backup method or oral contraceptives to use until she can begin the method of her choice.
All information from WHO-handbook of family planning