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HealthInfo Canterbury

Emergency contraceptive pill

ECPIf you've had unprotected sex and are worried about being pregnant, you can take an emergency contraceptive pill (ECP). This is also called the morning-after pill.

ECP is a tablet containing the hormone progesterone that can prevent sperm fertilising your egg, so you don’t get pregnant.

It's very good (98% effective at stopping pregnancy) for women lighter than 70 kg. For women over 70 kg, it isn't as good as an emergency IUD. If you decide not to have an IUD, you can take a double dose of ECP.

You can take this pill up to 72 hours (three days) after having unprotected sex, but it's best to take it as soon as you can.

Most woman have no side effects from the ECP, but it can sometimes make you feel sick or vomit.

See your GP or Family Planning Clinic to get the ECP.

Sexual health visits with your GP may be free. Ask your GP if you're eligible.

Appointments at Family Planning Clinics are free for New Zealand residents if you're under 22.

You can also buy the ECP pill from most pharmacies without seeing a GP.

Getting an IUD fitted up to five days after unprotected sex is another form of emergency contraception.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed February 2019. Last updated October 2019.

Page reference: 54623

Review key: HICAS-53138