Emergency contraception is contraception that you can use when you’ve had unprotected sex – either through a condom breaking, cases of rape, sex without a contraceptive or condom, or if you haven’t used your birth control correctly (e.g., forgotten to take a pill or have not had your injection on the date given to you).
There are two types of emergency contraception: The emergency contraception pill (also known as the morning-after pill) and the IUD. Both can prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex if used within 3-5 days, but the sooner the better.
How does emergency contraception work?
The morning-after pill stops or delays the ovaries from releasing an egg. The morning-after pill has hormones that are similar to the birth control pill but have a much higher dose. It also works by changing the lining of the womb to stop a fertilized egg from being implanted. The IUD prevents fertilisation between an egg and sperm.
When should I take emergency contraception?
The sooner you use emergency contraception after unprotected sex, the better your chances of preventing pregnancy.
You can use emergency contraception up to 5 days (120 hours) after unprotected sex but the sooner you use it, the more effective it is! The morning-after pill is more effective when taken within 3 days (72 hours).
Where can I get emergency contraception?
You can get emergency contraception from your local clinic, some pharmacies and from your doctor.
Remember, emergency contraception does not protect you from HIV and other STIs so it’s a good idea to go to the clinic if you’ve had unprotected sex and you are worried. Your healthcare provider may recommend PEP which is a medication you take after possibly being exposed to HIV.