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HealthInfo Canterbury

Emergency contraceptive pill

Rongoā ārai hapū ohotata

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 general practice, Family Planning Clinic, school clinic or 298 Youth Health to get the ECP.

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

Sexual health visits with your general practice team may be free. Ask your general practice team if you're eligible.

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

298 Youth Health offers free medical care and counselling for those aged 10 to 24.

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 July 2022.

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Page reference: 54623

Review key: HICAS-53138