Emergency contraception

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Emergency contraception is a form of contraception that can be taken by the woman after sex. Emergency contraception can not protect against sexually transmitted diseases. Emergency contraception may prevent a pregnancy. The drugs that are used for emergency contraception are based on hormones.

Emergency contraception needs to be applied soon after the unprotected sex. If it is not applied within about 3 days (72 hours) after the event, it will no longer help to prevent pregnancy. The sooner the drug is taken after unprotected sex, the more effective it is.[1]

The drugs work by either:

  • Stopping or delaying ovulation, the ovaries from releasing an egg or ovum;
  • Preventing sperm from fertilising any egg already released; or
  • Stopping a fertilised egg from attaching itself to the lining of the womb.[1]

It is estimated that these drugs may prevent 85% of expected pregnancies.[1]

The drugs will not work if the woman is already pregnant.[1] The drugs will also not work for preventing pregnancy from unprotected sex again in the same menstrual cycle.[1]

Often the drugs are available in pharmacies. In some countries, the affected person needs to talk to a healthcare professional (a doctor or a pharmacist). After this counseling, the drugs can be obtained.

Different from abortion[change | change source]

Emergency contraception is not a form of abortion. Abortion is only possible when a pregnancy has started. This means that the ovum has been fertilized, and that it has attached itself to the lining of the womb. Contraception is about preventing a pregnancy. There are certain pills, for example those containing Mifepristone which are taken as a form of abortion.

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 "Emergency Contraception". Sexual Health and Family Planning Australia. 2008. Archived from the original on 2008-10-28. Retrieved 2008-11-18.

Other websites[change | change source]