When should I take Emergency Contraception ('the morning-after pill')?

If you have unprotected sex and are worried about getting pregnant, you can take medication to help prevent conception.

This pill, which contains large concentrations of hormones, is available from hospital emergency rooms and clinics. It is best to take the morning-after pill within seventy-two hours of having unprotected sex.

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If your method of birth control didn't work or you were sexually assaulted and you are worried that you may become pregnant, emergency contraception (or "the morning-after pill") should be taken as soon as possible. It is most effective if used within the first 24 hours after having unprotected sex, but can be taken up to five days after having unprotected sex.

Two important things to remember:

  • Emergency Contraception will not protect you from sexually transmitted infections (STIs). You will need to follow-up for testing and treatment if you suspect you have an STI.
  • Emergency Contraception should not be used as a form of birth control. It is not good for your body to take Emergency Contraception as a regular form of birth control. If you are having trouble with your current birth control you may want to speak with a health care provider about other forms of birth control. This will help you determine what is best for you and your lifestyle.

Continue Learning about Emergency Contraception

What is the morning-after pill?
Daniel R. Spogen, MDDaniel R. Spogen, MD
The morning after pill is a birth control method for use when a woman has had intercourse in the las...
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How well does emergency contraception work?
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)
When used correctly, emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs) work very well at preventing pregnancy. Co...
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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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Can emergency contraception protect me from STIs?
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)
No. Emergency contraception can only lower the risk of becoming pregnant after having unprotected se...
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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.