The emergency contraceptive pill (ECP), or the “morning after pill", is a hormone pill that can reduce your chance of getting pregnant if you have an episode of unprotected sex. This could mean:
- Sex without a condom.
- The condom slipped, broke or leaked.
- No contraception was used or was used improperly.
- Missed birth control pills, patch, ring or injection.
- Sexual assault/forced sex.
Unlike other forms of contraception, ECP can be used AFTER intercourse as a simple and safe way to prevent pregnancy. It is important to understand that ECP is a last chance contraception. ECP is NOT something you want to rely on1.
When to take ECP
ECP can be taken within 5 days of unprotected sex. The sooner it is taken, the better it works. Two pills are taken at one time as a single dose. If you vomit within one hour after you have taken ECP call your healthcare provider or Sexual Health Clinic
as you may need another dose.
The sooner ECP is taken the better. It can be taken up to 5 days after an episode of unprotected sex. The effectiveness of ECP decreases if a person weighs over 164lbs.
ECP can prevent pregnancy, but not STIs or HIV/AIDS. It is best to always use a condom when you have sex even if you are using birth control. Free condoms are available through the Northwestern Health Unit.
ECP is available without a prescription at most pharmacies for about $25-$45. It is available at the Northwestern Health Unit for $10 or whatever you can afford.
How it works
ECP contains a hormone called progestin. ECP may do one of the following:
- Stop the release of an egg from the ovary.
- Prevent the egg from being fertilized.
- Prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the wall of the uterus.
ECP will not work if you are already pregnant.
Side effects are not common with ECP but you may experience:
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Abdominal pain.
When to expect your period
Most women get their period within 1-2 weeks after taking ECP. If your period has not started within 3 weeks contact your healthcare provider or visit the Sexual Health Clinic
for a pregnancy test.
1Source: The Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada Retrieved from www.sexualityandu.ca.