Emergency Contraception - Pills, Methods & Devices

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Everything you need to know about emergency contraceptives. Morning after pill (abortion pill), intrauterine device (IUD), spermicide and other contraception methods. Support and clinic contacts.

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Methods of Contraception: Emergency Contraception

Emergency contraception is provided in two ways:

  • using increased doses of certain oral contraceptive pills within 72 hours
  • insertion of a copper intrauterine device (IUD) within five to seven days
The Morning After Pill
  The Morning After Pill*
IUDS (Intrauterine Devices)
  IUDS (Intrauterine Devices)
  Back to the complete list of Birth Control categories




The Morning After Pill*

*This is not a form of contraception. For information on the common contraceptive pill click here.

The Morning After Pill can be taken:

  • after unprotected intercourse
  • if the usual method of contraception has failed

Treatment consists of four pills

  • two taken immediately available
  • two more taken twelve hours after the initial dosage

which contain a high dosage of the synthetic hormones estrogen and/or progestogen which stops an egg from being released and prevents implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus.

One of the newer Morning After Pill, Levonelle-2, contains only one hormone, a progestogen, and is said to be more effective and with less nausea, and side effects.

Treatment consists of two pills

  • one taken immediately later by a second.
  • One pill taken exactly 12 hours after the first pill

The Morning After Pill's effectiveness is lessened by:

  • certain medications (consult your doctor regarding which ones)
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting

and and are less likely to work if:

  • you take it over seventy-two hours after unprotected sex
  • you have unprotected sex after taking them
  • you forget to take the second set of pills
  • you vomit within two hours of taking the tablets (extra pills, plus something to stop you vomiting may be given)

It prevents about:

  • 95% of pregnancies developing if it is taken within 24 hours after unprotected sex
  • 85% of pregnancies developing if taken within 24-48 hours after unprotected sex
  • 5% of pregnancies developing if taken within 48-72 hours after unprotected sex

The Morning After Pill is designed solely for emergency use and is not a method of contraception.


high effectiveness rate if used within the recommended time period

Side effects*
  women who are advised against using birth control pills should not use the morning after pill

if pregnancy does occur the hormones may adversely affect the fetus

*Side effects include:

  • breast tenderness
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness
  • headaches
  • nausea
  • tiredness
  • vomiting

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The other form of emergency contraception involves having an IUD fitted within five days after unprotected sex, but the sooner an IUD is put in, the better the protection.

This method has a variable success rate and, definitely not 100%. Only standard IUD's are suitable not IUS's. More information about IUD and IUS

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Another form of emergency contraception which may reduce the the risk of pregnancy, if your method fails or you have unprotected intercourse, is to immediately insert two applications of spermicide into the vagina.

Inserting spermicide picture (Image credit: Sex & Sexuality)

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Information on a new antiviral Herpes Treatment that works in one application.

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