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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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196 thoughts on “Emergency Contraception

  1. Hi I need help, I want to do the yuzpe method but the thing is I don’t know how to buy it, where to buy or what to say to buy it

    1. Hi Glez! You can buy contraceptive pills with Ethinyl Estradiol 30mcg and Levonorgestrel 150mcg at the nearest drugstore, or you can go to the nearest health center to get pills. You’ll need just one pack to do the Yuzpe Method. Once you got your pills, just follow the instructions stated in this article. Some drugstores don’t dispense contraceptive pills unless you have a prescription. You might need to contact your OBGYN to get even just a digital copy on your phone.

    1. Hi Arah! No need to take a third dose if you’ve successfully done the first and second doses. As said in this article, there are only 2 doses needed to complete the Yuzpe Method.

  2. Hi i told my partner to use trust pills as ECP since nordette is sold out and btw we had sex with condom on and while on her monthly period as well but the thing is we did not notice that the condom got ripped until we end up but i also did withdrawal method as usual, but for assurance i still ask her to take the pills , my question is she missed the 2nd dose for about 3 hours late (5am) than the 12 hours (2AM) schedule after taking the first dose , should we take another dose at 5pm ? will it give her over dosage is it still healthy for her body?

    1. Hi Andress! Yes, she may need to take another dose at 5pm. The Yuzpe Method will not have any long-term adverse effect on the health, but just like any other medication, she may feel some side effects that will also disappear in a few days. Take note that she may also experience changes in her next menstrual cycle. Her period may be one to two weeks delayed.

  3. Hi one more question :). So if this is normal, does this guarantee that the method worked? Does it mean that I will be unable to get pregnant any time in the future? And should I be taking another pregnancy test any time soon?

    1. There is no way to confirm whether the bleeding is caused by withdrawal bleeding or ovulation bleeding, and the bleeding is not a guarantee that the Yuzpe Method was successful. Not everyone experiences bleeding after completing the method, so it’s not a reliable basis. Take a pregnancy test if a week or two weeks have passed since the day you normally expect your period.

  4. hi! I did the Yupze Method the proper way around a week ago and I am now experiencing brown vaginal discharge (not sure if it’s blood) one week after, on the day I am supposed to be ovulating. I just took a test and it came out negative but I am concerned. What does it mean?

    1. Hi Bea! It’s normal to experience spotting and changes in your menstrual cycle after doing the Yuzpe Method because your body is adjusting to the hormones contained in the pills. The spotting may also be a case of ovulation bleeding, which is not a serious health concern. Do take note that your next menstruation may also be a week to two weeks delayed.

  5. Unprotected sex yesterday then took a pill at 9:30pm but I miss the 9:30am then I just took it now. Late for about 3hrs of taking the last batch of 4pills. Am I still good or should I take another batch?

    1. Hi Jean! Each dose of the Yuzpe Method needs 4 pills, therefore the pill you took at 9:30PM is not enough. Please take FOUR (4) pills now, then FOUR (4) pills again after 12 hours.

  6. Thank you for your prompt response. 🙂 Can I still use it? As I understand, if I plan to start using the pill as a form of contraceptive on the first day of my next cycke, I need to use a new set. Is that correct? I’m sorry, I’m confused. Been inactive for 4 years after I got separated with my husband.

      1. Hello! I was supposed to have my period today, if the 28 days would still be followed, which is normal for me since I am regular. But after doing the Yuzpe, I still don’t have my period. I also didn’t experience the usual tenderness of breasts, or heavy feeling sa puson before my period, which happens to me every month about a week before I get my period. Should I worry now? Can I still do another take of Yuzpe even if no contact happened after I did the first? Thank you.

      2. Hi Chloe! It’s normal to experience changes in your menstrual cycle after doing the Yuzpe Method. There are women who get their period one to two weeks after the usual date they get it. Doing the Yuzpe Method is not recommended if you did not have any contact. It is only done within 3 to 5 days after unprotected sex.

      3. Thank you again and again. You are very helpful. 🙂 I have another question please? Since the delay is normal, should I take a PT to check if I’m pregnant or not? Or should I still wait for 1-2 weeks which is the usual period of delay? This makes me anxious. 🙁

      4. Hi Chloe! You can take a pregnancy test if one week has passed since the day you usually have your menstruation. For example: if you normally get your period every 14th of the month, take a pregnancy test on the 21st if you still don’t have your period. If another week has passed and you still don’t have it, take another pregnancy test.

    1. Hello. I just had my PT yesterday and it tuned out positive. Even if I did the Yuzpe the day after I had unpotected sex, it turned out like this. 🙁

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