Any woman, from puberty to menopause, can use emergency contraception in order to prevent an unplanned pregnancy following unprotected sexual intercourse.
Can you use emergency contraception several times during the same menstrual cycle?
It is not recommended to take more than one dose of emergency contraceptive pill in a menstrual cycle. Emergency contraception should not be used on a regular basis replacing long term contraception.
After having taken an emergency contraceptive pill, you should use a barrier contraceptive method (condom, spermicide, cap, or diaphragm) for each act of intercourse until the next menstrual period. It is advised that you speak to a healthcare professional about starting a regular contraceptive method that’s suited to you.
What are the possible side-effects associated with the use of emergency contraception?
Possible side-effects which may be experienced with the emergency contraceptive pill include nausea and vomiting, dizziness, fatigue, headache, lower abdominal pain, breast tenderness and vaginal bleeding.
Is using emergency contraception the same as having an abortion?
No. Emergency contraceptive pills do not cause abortions. If you are already pregnant and take emergency contraception you will not terminate the pregnancy. Emergency contraception takes effect before the implantation of the egg in the uterus and will therefore not work if you're already pregnant.
You should not use emergency contraception if you already have a confirmed pregnancy (a fertilised egg has attached to the wall of the uterus) because it will not be effective.
Is there another way to avoid a pregnancy after unprotected intercourse?
No. Neither the use of spermicide after ejaculation nor water and soap can prevent the occurrence of pregnancy. The reason is that sperm cells are immediately taken up by the cervical mucus, allowing them to penetrate the womb and protecting them from external damage.
Can you use emergency contraception at any time during the menstrual cycle?
Yes. Since the date of ovulation is not exactly predictable, you should use emergency contraception within 72 hours of any unprotected intercourse, especially if you have doubts about the risk of an unplanned pregnancy.
If you have a specific question about the morning after pill that you would like answered, please contact your healthcare professional or e-mail us