The ECP is taken after unprotected sex to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. There are two different types of ECP, Levonorgestrel-ECP (LNG-ECP) and Ulipristal acetate (UPA).
Some examples of when you may use the ECP include:
- you have had sex without using contraception
- the condom breaks
- you forget to take the contraceptive pill at the recommended time
- you are taking the contraceptive pill, but have vomiting or severe diarrhoea
- you are late for a contraceptive injection
- you are a victim of sexual assault
How does it work?
It stops or delays the release of an egg from the ovaries.
How well does it work?
Around 85% of pregnancies that would have occurred are prevented by the ECP. LNG-ECP is effective up to four days, and UPA is effective up to five days after unprotected sex. But the sooner you take it, the more effective it will be. You may need to have a follow-up pregnancy test in a few weeks to make sure you are not pregnant. It’s best to discuss this with your doctor or the chemist.
What are the benefits?
- The ECP is very safe and can be used more than once in a month if necessary.
- It is available at the chemist without a prescription. You don’t have to see a doctor to get the ECP.
- It won’t cause an abortion if you’re already pregnant.
What are the downsides?
- The ECP does not protect against STIs.
- It won’t protect against pregnancy if you have unprotected sex again in the same menstrual cycle. You should use condoms until you’re protected fully by another regular method of contraception.
Buy the Emergency Contraceptive Pill without a prescription at your local pharmacy.
Are there side effects?
Side effects are very rare. It does not affect your future fertility. You may experience:
- slight bleeding
- an early or late period. If your period is late you should have a pregnancy test
Can anyone use Emergency Contraception?
The ECP is very safe. If you’re taking some medications, for example, some epilepsy medications, talk to your doctor or chemist about this.
Where do you get it?
Both types of ECP can be bought at a chemist without a doctor’s prescription. They are also available from Family Planning NSW clinics.