Emergency contraception is recommended for the prevention of a pregnancy within 72 hours of unprotected sexual intercourse, particularly in the following situations:
Emergency contraception works before pregnancy can occur by preventing the release of an egg (ovulation). It cannot terminate or interrupt an established pregnancy nor harm a developing embryo.
Emergency contraception will not work if you are already pregnant.
Emergency contraception is available without a prescription from most pharmacies and clinics. A pharmacist may not sell emergency contraception to you if you are under the age of 14, unless you have a doctor’s prescription or are accompanied by either a parent or legal guardian.
Emergency contraception is available at most pharmacies and clinics throughout South Africa. If you are under 14, it is advisable that you visit your local doctor or family planning clinic for advice.
In clinical trials, the proportion of pregnancies avoided after the use of emergency contraception varied from 52 % to 85 % of expected pregnancies2. Efficacy appears to decline with time after intercourse (95 % within 24 hours, 85 % within 24-48 hours and 58 % if used between 48 and 72 hours)2.
Efficacy is higher when emergency contraception is used as early as possible.
Remember, emergency contraception does not prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as HIV/AIDS.