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What is the emergency contraception (morning after) pill?

Emergency contraception (EC) involves taking 1 or 2 pills within 5 days of unprotected intercourse. The hormones in two types of EC are the same hormones commonly found in birth control pills. (The newest EC pill, ulipristal, is nonhormonal.) The difference between emergency contraception and standard oral contraceptives is in the dosage and timing.

The sooner the pills are taken, the more effective (hence, "the morning after" pill); but it is still highly effective as long as it is taken within 5 days of unprotected intercourse. Side effects are minimal and can include nausea, vomiting and light bleeding. If pregnancy does occur, or if you are already pregnant, there is no risk to the developing fetus.

Continue Learning about Emergency Contraception

Can I get emergency contraceptive pills even if I don't need it?
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)
Yes. Your doctor should bring up emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs) at your annual exam (when you ...
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What should I do after I take emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs)?
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After you have taken ECPs, your next period may come sooner or later than normal. Most women will ge...
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How effective is an emergency contraception in preventing pregnancy?
Intermountain HealthcareIntermountain Healthcare
Emergency contraceptive (EC) medication is not perfect. But the sooner it is taken, the better i...
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Does emergency contraception have side effects?
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)
Some women feel sick and throw up after taking ECPs. Headache, cramps, and fatigue also can occur. P...
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.