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Emergency Contraception

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Emergency contraception

Pregnancy prevention following unprotected sex

Emergency contraception pills help to prevent a pregnancy when taken up to five days after unprotected sex.

They work by preventing or delaying the release of an egg from the ovaries. A very popular type of emergency contraception involves taking one or two tablets of a particular hormone. This is sometimes called ‘the morning after pill’ or ‘Plan B’.

An intrauterine device (IUD) can also be used as emergency contraception as it can prevent a fertilised egg from settling in the womb.

You may wish to consider having a supply of emergency contraceptive pill or pills at home so you have them easily available should you need them as they only work within five days of unprotected sex.

Emergency contraception advantages

Emergency contraception offers the following advantages as a short-term method of contraception:

  • It is safe for almost all women
  • Using emergency contraception does not affect long term fertility
  • It does not cause an abortion.
  • You can use emergency contraception at any time in your menstrual cycle
  • Emergency contraception is not harmful to your health.

Things to consider

When deciding if emergency contraception is a method right for you, here are a few quick facts you should consider:

  • It will only work for sex that occurred in the previous five days
  • It is not recommended as a regular method of contraception
  • Unlike condoms, it does not protect you from sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • It may have some side effects, such as bleeding, nausea and fatigue.

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