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Emergency Contraception

emergency contraceptives, family planning, reproductive health

At A Glance:

  • Contraceptive pills or copper IUDs can both 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.
  • Can be used up to five days after unprotected sex. Pills can be up to 88% effective if taken within 72 hours (three days) after unprotected sex. The sooner, the better.
  • The Yuzpe Method is not guaranteed as effective as daily intake of pills as a regular contraceptive method.
  • Copper IUDs are 99.9% effective if inserted within 120 hours (five days) after unprotected sex.

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:

  • you weren’t using any contraceptive when you had sex
  • you forgot to take your pills or use condoms
  • your partner’s condom broke or slipped off
  • your partner didn’t pull out in time or
  • you were forced to have unprotected vaginal sex

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.

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.

Copper IUDs are available in the Philippines, and can also be used as emergency contraception in case of unprotected sex. If inserted by a healthcare provider within 120 hours (five days) after the incident, it is up to 99.9% effective—even on the fifth day— and can be left for up to ten years if you have decided to use it as an ongoing contraceptive method. This makes the copper IUD the most effective emergency contraception. Although the initial cost is quite a bit more expensive, it’s highly effective for years. Talk to your healthcare provider if you want to know more about getting an IUD.

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.

Copper IUDs work as an emergency contraceptive because they affect how sperm cells move, and thus preventing them from meeting an egg cell up to five days after unprotected sex. In case the egg cell was fertilized by a sperm cell, the copper IUD also prevents the fertilized egg cell from implanting itself in the uterine lining, which prevents pregnancy once again.

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 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.

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.

If you have a copper IUD inserted within five days of unprotected sex, it can lower the chances of pregnancy by 99.9%. To undergo the procedure, you’ll have to make an appointment with a healthcare provider.

The Positives

  • Pregnancy can be prevented after unprotected, unplanned or unsolicited sex.
  • Offers more protection and peace of mind than doing nothing.
  • Easy to use.
  • Copper IUDs are 99.9% effective and can be used for up to ten years.

The Negatives

Pills

  • Can cause an upset stomach and vomiting.
  • Could cause breast tenderness, irregular bleeding, dizziness, headaches (short-term), and temporary changes to the menstrual cycle.
  • The Yuzpe Method should be done.

Copper IUD

  • May cause cramping after insertion
  • Might lead to heavier or longer periods
  • Need to make an appointment with doctor for insertion

Sources:

Department of Health. The Philippine Clinical Standards Manual on Family Planning (2014 Edition). Manila, Philippines: DOH. 2014. Pp231-239

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/emergency-contraception

https://www.familyplanning.org.nz/clinics/services/emergency-contraception-copper-iud

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150 thoughts on “Emergency Contraception

  1. hi just a follow up, i experienced mild cramps and very light period that came a week before my expected period. it was so light that i only use liner instead of the usual pads and it lasted for 4 days but on my 10th day cycle i noticed light blood on egg white consistency discharged. is this normal? i took preg kit last may 14 and it turned negative. was that too early to check? thanks
    apr 23- contact / used yuzpe merhod
    expected period -may 14
    may 8-11 light period
    may 13- took preg kit – negative
    may 17 – light blood on egg white consistency discharged

  2. Hi! I had unprotected sex last night but my partner didn’t come inside me. He was really careful. Just to be sure i took 4 pills of trust pills (yellow tablets) today, after 21 hrs of unprotected sex, and will take another 4 later before midnight. I took laxative due to constipation, 7 hrs after taking my 1st dose of trust pills. Will that lessen the effect of the Yuzpe method?

      1. The Yuzpe Method does not have long-term effects on your reproductive health, but you may experience some changes in your next menstrual cycle. It might come earlier than expected, or be delayed than usual. Acne breakout is not a common experience after the Yuzpe Method.

      1. Yes, it will still be effective. Just don’t take laxatives again. If you do experience vomiting or diarrhea within 2 hours after a dose, you’ll have to repeat the dose again.

  3. Hi DoItRight! My last period was on April 7.

    I had sex last April 29 And my bf came inside me. I took 1 pill of Lady the next day and another 1 pill the day after that. Will that still be effective?

    I also had unprotected sex again last night and I’m thinking of taking 4 pills at once today and another 4 in the next 12 hours. Will it still take its effect? Please answer me 🙁

    1. Hi Masha! Please read this article because the correct instructions are here. The Yuzpe Method requires you to take FOUR (4) PILLS in the first dose, and another FOUR (4) PILLS in the second dose which is after 12 hours from the previous. Just like what it is stated in this article, the Yuzpe Method is effective up to 72 HOURS (3 DAYS) after the incident of unprotected sex.

  4. Hi. I have done Yuzpe method and after 5 days i had this bleeding but lasted only for few hours. Is it normal? I had unprotected sex that time as well. Is it possible to get pregnant?

    1. Hi Jayzel! Yes, some women experience bleeding and spotting after the Yuzpe Method. Your next menstruation may also be delayed. You had unprotected sex AFTER doing the method?

      1. I had unprotected sex when i was bleeding. But again i have done the method the next day of the deed.

      2. Hi Jayzel! Unprotected sex during menstruation can still lead to pregnancy. But if you did the Yuzpe Method immediately and all steps were correct, your chances of getting pregnant is much much slimmer.

      3. I had unprotected sex during my bleeding. But then again i have done the method the next day of the deed. Is there any possibilities that i will get pregnant?

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