Emergency Contraception

Emergency contraception is also called “Morning-After Pill”. It is a safe and effective way to prevent pregnancy after an unprotected intercourse. A woman might also use emergency contraception if she forgot to take her birth control pills, condom broke or slipped off during sexual intercourse, or if no birth control methods were used.

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What is Emergency Cont​​​​​​raception?

Emergency contraception is also called “Morning-After Pill”. It is a safe and effective way to prevent pregnancy after an unprotected intercourse. A woman might also use emergency contraception if she forgot to take her birth control pills, condom broke or slipped off during sexual intercourse, or if no birth control methods were used. 

There are 2 types of emergency contraception; the pill method and the insertion of a device called the copper intrauterine device (IUD). A copper IUD can preve​nt pregnancy because its presence is toxic to sperms. This leaflet covers only the pill method.​


When should I use ​​emergency contraception (Pill method)?

It can be taken at any time during the menstrual cycle. Take the pill as soon as possible after you have unprotected intercourse. Depending on the type of pill, it may work up to 5 days after you have unprotected intercourse.
​​​
  • Postinor® (levonorgestrel)
  • Recommended within 3 days after unprotected intercourse. It is less effective beyond 72 hours.
    ​​
  • Ella® (ulipristal acetate)
  • Recommended if it has been within 5 days of having unprotected intercourse.​
​​
​You ​​may still get pregnant if there is sexual intercourse after taking the pill. Ensure that you use a condom or any other type of birth control method if you have sexual intercourse after taking the emergency contraceptive pill.


How shou​ld it be taken?

They can be administered with or without food.

  • Postinor® (levonorgestrel)
  • The most common method of taking the medication would be to take the 1st​​ tablet as soon as possible within 72 hours of intercourse; the 2nd​​​​​ tablet must be taken 12 hours after taking the first tablet. Some others might be directed to take 2 tablets at the same time within 72 hours. No more than 4 tablets can be taken per month.
     ​​​
  • Ella® (ulipristal acetate)
  • One tablet to be taken as soon as possible within 5 days of intercourse. Repeated administration of ulipristal acetate within the same menstrual cycle is not advisable, as its safety and efficacy after repeated administration within the same cycle has not been investigated.​

​​

What side effects can t​​his medicine cause? What can I do about them?

The most common side effects are nausea and/or vomiting.​

  • Postinor® (levonorgestrel)​
  • If you vomited within 2 hours after taking the pill, you should consult your doctor in order to take another tablet.
    ​​
  • Ella® (ulipristal acetate)
  • If you vomited within 3 hours after taking the pill, you should consult your doctor in order to take another tablet.

Other side effects include headache, breast tenderness, dizziness and fatigue.​

​​

What happens aft​​er I take emergency contraception?

You may experience breakthrough or withdrawal bleeding 2 – 3 days after taking the tablet. Your next period usually start within a week from your expected date. However, if your period is more than 7 days late, it is recommended to get a pregnancy test. If you experience prolonged or heavy bleeding or severe abdominal pain, you should consult your doctor.​


This leaflet answers some common questions about emergency contraception. It does not contain all the available information. It also does not take the place of talking to your doctor or pharmacist.

​​

Version 2
Last Review: 17/11/2016
Produced by Department of Pharmacy
KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital
​​

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