Emergency Contraceptive Pill (The morning after pill)
The emergency contraceptive pill (ECP) AKA ‘The Morning After Pill’ can be taken to reduce the risk of pregnancy after unprotected sex. That means, if you’ve had sex and the condom broke or you didn’t use a condom and aren’t using another form of reliable birth control, the ECP is your back up plan!
How does it work? The ECP works by stopping or slowing down ovulation, which is when your eggs are released from your ovaries. It also stops the egg and sperm from meeting. If you are already pregnant the ECP will not affect, interrupt or harm the pregnancy.
It works best when taken within 24 hours after unprotected sex, but even up to three days the ECP is 85% effective in preventing pregnancies that would have otherwise occurred. REMEMBER it’s not 100% effective so you may still need to do a pregnancy test just to make sure you are not pregnant a few weeks later. It also doesn’t have lasting effect: if you have sex any time after taking the ECP, you can still become pregnant!
The ECP is very safe and it has no serious or long lasting side effects. Some may get an irregular period, feel a little bit sick or have sore boobs after they take it.
After you take the ECP your period can come a little bit earlier or can be a little late. You may even get a little bit of bleeding a few days after taking the ECP but this is NOT a period.
It’s a good idea to see a Youth Health Nurse, GP (general practitioner) or Family Planning clinic if your next period is more than a week late, if your period isn’t normal, if you want to start ongoing contraception, if you’re worried for any reason or would like a sexual health checkup.
Though the ECP is great for preventing accidental pregnancy, it does not offer protection against STIs - only condoms can do that!
You can get the ECP over the counter from any pharmacy without a prescription and in some cases, free of charge through a sexual health centre or youth health service.
If you want to know more you can ring 1800 451 624 between 9:00am and 5:30pm Monday to Friday to talk with a sexual health nurse. It’s confidential and free if you call from a landline.
Sign up with your email address
Signup to receive info on comps, events and other updates.