At A Glance:
- Contraceptive pills can be used as emergency contraception after unprotected sex to decrease the chances of pregnancy.
- Should only be used after unprotected sex, if another contraceptive method failed, or if no contraception was used.
- Pills can prevent up to 95% of pregnancies if taken within 72 hours (three days) after unprotected sex. The sooner, the better.
- The Yuzpe Method is not guaranteed as effective as the daily intake of pills as a regular contraceptive method.
What Is It
Emergency contraception lessens the chances of a woman getting pregnant if taken within the first few days after unprotected sex. It should be taken as a last resort when other contraceptive methods failed or were not used during unplanned sex.
You may want to use it if:
- No contraceptive was used
- A contraceptive was used incorrectly
- A contraceptive was used correctly but was immediately observed to have failed
- The condom broke, slipped, or was used incorrectly
- Three or more combined oral contraceptive pills were consecutively missed
- More than three hours have passed since the usual time of intake of the progestin-only pill
- You are more than four weeks late for the depo injectable shot
- Withdrawal failed and ejaculation occured in the vagina or on external genitalia
Emergency contraceptive pills are also called “morning after pills,” which gives the wrong impression that they should be taken the morning after unprotected sex, when in fact, they can already be taken as soon as possible without having to wait for the morning after.
The Yuzpe Method
In the Philippines, the daily oral contraceptive pills available can be used as emergency contraception through a specific method. The Yuzpe Method prevents pregnancy before it happens; it’s a backup plan, and should not be done regularly. If you are interested in taking oral contraceptive pills as a regular method of contraception, consult your healthcare provider to know more. It is also strongly advised to consult a healthcare provider when using the Yuzpe Method.
How It Works
Pregnancy doesn’t happen immediately after sex, which is why preventing it after unprotected sex is still possible. Take note: it can take up to seven days for the sperm cell and egg cell to meet after sex.
Pills prevent the sperm cell and egg cell from meeting and result in pregnancy by releasing a large dosage of the hormones estrogen and progestin in the body. Through this, the egg cell is stopped or delayed from leaving the ovary and traveling to the uterus for fertilization.
The Yuzpe Method lessens the chances of pregnancy to happen if taken within the first few days after unprotected sex; however, how much the chances are reduced depends on how soon the pills are taken after the incident, and at what stage the woman’s menstrual cycle is already when she takes it. The chances of getting pregnant are higher when the woman had unprotected sex during the 2nd or 3rd week of her menstrual cycle; this makes the effectiveness rate not absolute. It’s always better to use a regular form of contraception, such as a condom or the daily oral contraceptive pills.
How To Use It
Do the Yuzpe Method as soon as possible after unprotected sex. Although it can reduce the risk of pregnancy if used within 72 hours after the incident, taking it sooner makes it more effective.
- Take four (4) Ethinyl Estradiol 30mcg/Levonorgestrel 150mcg, Ethinyl Estradiol 30mcg/Levonorgestrel 125mcg, or Ethinyl Estradiol 30mcg/Norgestrel 300mcg pills as soon as possible.
- Follow this with another dose of four (4) pills 12 hours later.
You should be able to take a total of eight (8) pills. There’s nothing else you need to do after taking the two doses of four pills each.
If vomiting occurs within 2 hours after taking either of the doses, you need to repeat that dose. Remember, the sooner the pills are taken, the better.
It’s normal for your next period to be different from normal after taking emergency contraception.
- It may come earlier or later than usual
- It may be heavier, lighter, more spotty, the same as usual
You may also feel dizzy and nauseous after taking the pills.
Who Can Use It
The Yuzpe Method is safe and effective for most women, even those who are currently breastfeeding or cannot use long-term hormonal contraceptives. Their short-term usage means that there are no medical conditions that would make the Yuzpe Method unsafe for any woman. It will also not terminate or affect an ongoing pregnancy if a woman does the Yuzpe Method while she is already pregnant.
- Pregnancy can be prevented after unprotected, unplanned or unsolicited sex.
- Offers more protection and peace of mind than doing nothing.
- Easy to use.
- Can cause nausea, fatigue, an upset stomach and vomiting
- Can cause breast tenderness, irregular bleeding, dizziness, headaches (short-term), and temporary changes to the menstrual cycle
- The chance of preventing pregnancy is higher the closer the Yuzpe Method is used in the time after unprotected sex. Generally, within 72 hours after is the effective period. Beyond that, it cannot guarantee effective protection.
Department of Health. The Philippine Clinical Standards Manual on Family Planning (2014 Edition). Manila, Philippines: DOH. 2014. Pp231-239