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]

Emergency contraception is illegal in some countries and for some circumstances (for example, outside the context of rape). 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.

Note that this is different from pills containing Mifepristone, which are taken during the pregnancy, 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]