Emergency contraception can feel like a scary option to think about or consider. However, it is important to know about it in clear and detailed terms.

Here are answers to some of the frequently asked questions related to emergency contraception:


1. What is emergency contraception?

Emergency contraception is a method to prevent unwanted pregnancy in the event of an emergency like condom rupture/slippage, forgotten birth control pill, or unplanned unprotected intercourse. It is not to be used as a substitute for regular contraception methods.

2. What are the options for emergency contraception?

The most commonly used method for emergency contraception is a hormonal pill (also called the morning-after pill). It is to be taken orally within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse. If taken after 72 hours, it is associated with a higher failure rate. 

Copper T (a device that goes inside the womb) can also work as emergency contraception and can be inserted up to 120 hours (5 days) of unprotected sex. 

3. Are there any side effects of the morning-after pill?

The morning-after pill can cause some nausea, vomiting, headache, or breast pain. These effects are usually short-lasting and self-limiting. Additionally, it may cause some irregularity of the menstrual cycle and the next period can come a little earlier or later than usual. 

4. What if the pill fails and I become pregnant?

As the pill is not 100% effective, one should always rule out pregnancy by doing a urine pregnancy test at least 3 weeks after the act of unprotected intercourse. If the test is positive, you can decide to continue as no major malformations have been reported in the babies conceived after emergency contraception failure. In case you do not want to continue with the pregnancy, you should meet your doctor to discuss pregnancy termination. 

5. Can I take the morning-after pill more than once in the same cycle?

One dose of the pill can protect from 2 episodes of unprotected sex if they are no more than 12 hours apart. Beyond that, the pill will not provide protection against any further episode (in the same menstrual cycle) and the pill needs to be repeated. It can be taken more than once in the same cycle.

Consult your gynaecologist for more information about emergency contraception. Stay informed and stay safe. 


Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.