Worried couple in bed - emergency contraception
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Emergency contraception

You’ve had intercourse without using contraception, even though you don’t want to be pregnant. Or you think something could have gone wrong with your contraception – perhaps you forgot to take your pill, or a condom burst. What can you do?

If you really don’t want to get pregnant, all is not lost. If you act fast you can use emergency contraception. One possibility is to take an ECP or ‘morning after’ pill. You can also get an IUD fitted.

Emergency contraceptive pill

Emergency contraception pills (ECPs), also known as morning-after pills or e-pills, are drugs you can take when you have had unprotected sex and think that you could be pregnant.

You need to take them as soon as possible after the unprotected intercourse, preferably within 24 hours. After that they become less effective.

ECPs are available over the counter, which means you can go straight to the pharmacy and get it without a doctor's prescription.

There are two types of emergency contraception pills however only one is currently available in India. The available pill is progestogen-only (using the hormone levonorgestrel) generally called Ipill or Unwanted 72.


  • Helps prevent pregnancy in cases of failed or forgotten contraception, or rape
  • Gives peace of mind
  • Easy to get


  • Can change timing of next period (early or late)
  • No STD protection
  • Needs to be taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex

ECPs are not for regular contraception

There is no limit as to how many times you can use the emergency-pill in a year. However, the ECP does have short-term side effects. That means it should not be used as a normal form of contraception, but only in case of emergency. Look for a form of contraception that suits you: see types of birth control.


Another form of emergency contraception is the copper IUD. However, this needs to be put in by a medical provider. It's an option if you're already considering starting to use a long-term form of contraception.

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    Is an ECP the same as an abortion pill?

    ECPs are not abortion pills. The ECP works in various ways, but can't do anything if an egg is already fertilized. If you are already pregnant and take the ECP, it will have no negative effects on your pregnancy.

    How do I get an ECP?

    You can get the ECP over the counter or from your healthcare provider. Because it is most effective the faster you take it, many health care providers even suggest getting an emergency pill and keeping it at home just in case. Studies have found that keeping an ECP at home doesn't mean you are more likely to have unprotected sex.

    What are the side-effects of ECPs?

    • Fatigue
    • Headaches
    • Abdominal pain, nausea, vomitting
    • Dizziness

    How safe are ECPs?

    ECPs have a high concentration of hormones and can cause considerable short-term side effects. That's why ECPs should be used only in case of emergency, and are not recommended as a normal method of birth control.

    There seem to be no long-term side-effects known for emergency-contraception pills.

    There are some cases of deep vein thrombosis (DVTs) reported with the use of the ECPs.

    Who shouldn't use ECPs?

    • Women with undiagnosed abnormal vaginal bleeding
    • Women with history of DVT (deep vein thrombosis)
    • Women with acute migraines
    • People with a Body Mass Index (BMI) higher than 25

    What can stop ECPs from working properly?

    If you vomit soon after taking the pill, it may be less effective. Talk to a healthcare provider as soon as possible to find out what your options are.

    In both cases, consider the Copper-T IUD as emergency contraception.

    I-pill / Unwanted 72

    The progestogen-only pill makes the mucus around your cervix thicker so the sperm can’t get through. It can also stop ovulation while also releasing a hormone that makes it harder for sperm to travel up towards the egg. You get either two doses of 750mg each that you have to take 12 hours apart, or one dose of 1.5mg.

    If taken within 24 hours it is 95% effective. The longer you wait before taking ECPs, the less effective they are. They are most effective if taken between 12 and 24 hours after unprotected sex. If taken later, they can still be effective for 72 hours after intercourse, but then your chances of getting pregnant are higher. If taken between 49-72 hours the pill is only 58% effective.

    Progestogen-only pills work less well for women who are overweight. If you have a body mass index (BMI) of more than 25 then it is suggested to use the Copper IUD as emergency contraception.

    Don’t know your BMI? Use the calculator to figure it out:


    Progestogen-only pills can even be used several times in one cycle if needed, though should not be used as a normal form of birth control. For more regular forms of birth control check out Birth Control Methods.

    The ‘Morning After’ IUD

    Another kind of emergency contraception is the ‘morning after IUD’. You have to have it fitted by a doctor. This is possible four to five days after you’ve had unprotected sex.

    This is actually just the same as having an IUD fitted as a contraceptive. Once it’s in, you can just leave it in place to stop you getting pregnant in future. But you need to think whether it’s the right kind of contraception to suit you – see the section on birth control.

    Shah Nawaz
    Fri, 04/14/2017 - 17:02

    Meri gf k saath mene feb mai sex kiya tha aur 7 april mai ucko mc b hue thai bt ic br ucko mc nhi aaye ....icka kya reason ho skta hai ....meri girf friend ne prega news test b kiya hai aur result negative aaya hai ...agr wo pregnant nhi hai toh phir ucko periods kyu nhi aaye abi tk ....kya reason ho skta hai .....

    Ab situation kaisi hain, beta? Kya aap is bare mein abhi tak kisi doctor se millein hai? Ek vishagya ya achche panjikrit doctor se consult kijiye. Yadi aap is mudde par humse aur gehri charcha mein judna chahte hain toh hamare discussion board “Just Poocho” mein zaroor shamil hon! https://lovematters.in/en/forum

    i had sex with my girlfriend first time on last monday without condom i had not broken her fallopian tube due to pain that she was having then also i had given him unwanted72 becoz dont want to take risk but she is not having her periods as periods had to take place in 7 days after taking pill can u help me is she pregnant ???

    17th march mere husbend ne unsafe sex kiya mere perioud 8th april ko ana tha abi tak nahi aya kya mai pregnent hu mujhe pregnent nahi hona abi pls koi solution btaiye

    Yaad rakhiye chahe thode hi semen ka yoni mein pravesh hua ho, bina condom ke wo unsafe hai kyunki pregnant hone ke liey ek shuranu bhi kaafi hota hai. Ab jaldi se ek home pregnancy test lo ya Phoren kisi vishagya ya achche panjikrit doctor se milo, aur dekho kya ho sakta hai. Madad ke liye Yeh bhi padho: https://lovematters.in/hi/resource/unplanned-pregnancy Yadi aap is mudde par humse aur gehri charcha mein judna chahte hain toh hamare discussion board “Just Poocho” mein zaroor shamil hon! https://lovematters.in/en/forum
    arjun kumar
    Sat, 08/05/2017 - 11:59

    Madam jab mai sex karata hu,aur sex karane ke bad jab ling yoni se bahar nikalata hu to ling ke sath hi sare sprm bahar nakal aate hai...ye kya chakar hai madam

    Arjun beta, sex ke baad virya baahar nikalta hi hain. Chinta mat keejiye. Pregnant hone ke liye ek shukranu bhi bohot kaafi hota hai. Zara yeh padhiye: https://lovematters.in/en/news/10-most-common-contraception-myths Yadi aap is mudde par humse aur gehri charcha mein judna chahte hain toh hamare discussion board “Just Poocho” mein zaroor shamil hon! https://lovematters.in/en/forum

    Sorry beta, hum aise kisi bhi tablet ka naam apko nahi bata sakte! Aur naa hi is tarah koi bhi medicine lena swasth hai! Behtar hoga ki aap iske liye doctor se milein. https://lovematters.in/en/birth-control/types-of-birth-control/the-pill Yadi aap is mudde par humse aur gehri charcha mein judna chahte hain toh hamare discussion board “Just Poocho” mein zaroor shamil hon! https://lovematters.in/en/forum
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