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Emergency Pill

 Quick Facts

  • Single-use
  • Not a regular method of contraception
  • Widely available


The efficacy reduces drastically depending on the duration between sex and taking the pill. For optimum effectiveness, you must take an emergency pill within 12 – 24 hours after sex. Efficacy declines over time after unprotected sex as follows:

  • 95% effective within the first 24 hours
  • 85% if had within 25- 48 hours
  • 58% if had within 49-72 hours
Abstinence 100%

Key Benefits 

  • Highly effective when used as directed
  • Emergency Prevention
  • Widely available at pharmacies

What is an emergency pill?

Emergency contraceptives, as the name suggests, prevent pregnancy after unplanned unprotected sex. They are also known as the morning-after pill. The morning-after pill offers you a chance to avoid pregnancy.  It contains hormones similar to oral contraceptives but in high doses.

It works in various ways. Mainly it prevents or delays the ovary from releasing an egg. There may also be a change in the uterus lining, preventing the implantation of a fertilized egg. Two types of emergency pills are available—one containing levonorgestrel (LNG) and the other pill containing ulipristal acetate (UPA).

How to use it correctly?


These pills are available in 1-pill or 2-pill packs. Follow the instructions on the package. You may have emergency contraception up to 5 days after unprotected sex but should take it as soon as possible. Remember that they are not a regular method of contraception.


  • It helps you to prevent pregnancy as an emergency method.
  • Alleviates the worry related to an unplanned pregnancy.


  • It contains a high dose of hormones
  • Using it repeatedly can affect the natural menstrual cycle
  • It may cause vomiting, headache, nausea, stomachache, menstrual pain, weakness, tiredness, dizziness
  • It does not guard you against HIV infection (AIDS) and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Emergency contraception may cause spotting like those of birth control pills.
  • Some pills, such as ulipristal, may cause trouble with the pregnancy if you are already pregnant.

Essential Tips

  • You must take the emergency pill as soon as possible for it to work effectively.
  • Consult your doctor if you have severe side effects
  • Emergency contraception pills do not protect you for the rest of your cycle.
  • If you are overweight, these pills may not work for you.
  • These pills do not work if you are already pregnant.

Recommended to use if

  • You had unprotected sex without using any contraception.
  • Your contraception method failed due to any reason. You forgot to take your tablet, the condom broke or slipped away, your diaphragm slipped, etc.
  • If you used the withdrawal method, your partner didn’t pull out in time.
  • Your partner forced you to have unprotected vaginal sex

Not Recommended if

Use emergency contraceptive pills only in an emergency, not regularly. The high dose of hormones may expose you to side effects and disturb your regular periods with repeated administration.

In Short

As the name suggests, emergency contraception pills should be used only in emergencies if used regularly; the high hormones may cause unwanted side effects.

  1. W H O
  2. Paediatrics & Child Health
    Emergency contraception: Preventing pregnancy after you have had sex
  3. Family Planning Victoria
    Reproductive & Sexual Health
  4. University of Michigan Health System (UMHS)
  5. N H S
    Your contraception guide




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