What is emergency contraception  ?


Emergency contraception  is also referred to as the morning after-pill. This form of birth control is used to prevent pregnancy up to 5 days after having unprotected sex. It can also be used in cases of rape, sexual assault or in  case another type of birth control fails. Emergency contraception is a  high dose of certain birth control pills combined . These pills are made up of estrogen and progestin or progestin only.

emergency contraception

The morning after pills contain either levonorgestrel (Plan B One Step, Next Choice) or ulipristal (Ella ) .


Plan B One Step and Next Choice are up to   89 percent effective when taken within 72 hours (three days) after unprotected sex. Ella is 85% effective when taken within 5 days of unprotected sex.


Levonogestrel pills are not very effective for women with Body Mass Index BMI of more than 25.

How does the emergency contraception work ?


This birth control contains the synthetic hormones  estrogen and progestin or progestin only. These hormones regulate ovulation and fertility.


Emergency contraception works  in the following ways :

  • first of all, it reduces the possibility of eggs reaching the ovaries
  • secondly it causes thickening of the cervical mucus. This decreases the chance of sperm reaching and fertilizing an egg
  • Lastly it changes  the lining of the uterus thereby decreasing the chances of implantation


How do you use an emergency contraception ?

The first dose of the pill is taken as soon as possible, followed by another dose 12 hours later. It is advised to take this contraception within 24 hours for maximum effectiveness.

How effective is an  emergency contraception  ?

It reduces the possibility of pregnancy by about 75 to 89 %. This depends on the type of pill taken and the time taken.


Emergency contraception are not as effective as other forms of birth control and should not be used as a regular birth control.


Are there any health risk associated with associated with emergency contraception ?


People who use emergency contraception experience side effects that people who use oral or  other forms of hormonal contraception experience. These  include :

  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • headaches
  • irregular periods
  • abdominal pains
  • breast tenderness

Emergency contraception is not recommended for women who are already pregnant. It also DOES NOT protect against the transmission of sexually transmitted infections STI.


This form of birth control may affect your cycle making it come early or late. It may cause blood flow that is different from normal.


Currently there are no studies that indicate harm to the fetus if the method fails.


Content Sources
Emergency contraception : Morning after pill . American Pregnancy Association . http://americanpregnancy.org/preventing-pregnancy/emergency-contraception/. Accessed November 17, 2014
Morning after pill. Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/morning-after-pill/basics/definition/prc-20012891. Accessed November 17, 2014
Morning after-pill. Emergency contraception. http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-info/morning-after-pill-emergency-contraception. Accessed November 17, 2014

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