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Emergency Contraceptive Pill

The emergency contraceptive pill (ECP) is a pill that can prevent pregnancy when used within five days after unprotected sexual intercourse.

How does it work?

  • Depending on what stage of your menstrual cycle you are in, ECP prevents or delays the release of an egg from the ovary (ovulation).
  • If a sperm has fertilized an egg, ECP can prevent the egg from being implanted in the uterus.

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How effective is it?

  • The emergency contraceptive pill is between 75% and 98% effective when taken within five days of unprotected intercourse.
  • For maximum effectiveness, ECP should be taken as soon as possible after unprotected intercourse.

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How do I take it?

  • Take the first pill within 5 days of unprotected sex and take the second pill 12 hours later, or both pills can be taken at the same time.

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Where can I get it?

  • The emergency contraceptive pill is available for low cost at sexual health clinics .
  • It can also be obtained from physicians, walk-in clinics, pharmacies, and some emergency departments. The Health Department's  Sexual Health Clinics sell the emergency contraceptive pill for approximately $10.

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What are the advantages and disadvantages to using the emergency contraceptive pill?


  • It is a simple safe emergency method to reduce the chance of pregnancy.


  • It is not suitable for women who cannot take birth control pills.
  • It should not be used as a regular method of birth control.
  • It may have some temporary side effects: nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, vaginal bleeding.
  • It does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) .

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