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Emergency Contraception Pill FAQs

When is emergency contraception most effective?

It is most effective when taken within 3 days of unprotected sex. It is moderately effective when taken within 5 days. This pill is available without a prescription to anyone of any age.

What if the EC pills make me nauseous?

To prevent nausea and vomiting, you can take an anti-nausea medicine an hour before taking the first dose of EC. Note that this might make you drowsy.

If you end up vomiting within an hour of taking a dose of EC, you may want to take that dose again in case your body did not absorb the hormones yet.

Does emergency contraception work the same way as the abortion pill?

If you are already pregnant (even if you do not know it yet), EC will not work. EC can only prevent a pregnancy from starting; it cannot stop one that already has. And if you accidentally take EC before you know you are pregnant, it will not hurt you or the pregnancy.

How many times can I take EC throughout my life?

EC pills can be used more than once during a single menstrual cycle, but you should not rely on EC pills as a long-term birth control method. EC pills are not as effective in preventing pregnancy as using a birth control method consistently and correctly. There also may be more side effects from frequent use of EC than from use of a standard birth control method.

Will EC make me have an abortion?

No, EC does not cause abortions and won’t work if you’re already pregnant. EC works by delaying ovulation, so it may not be effective if you’re already ovulating when you take it.

If I take EC, do I need to use another form of birth control the next time I have sex?

Emergency contraception may be effective within five days of unprotected sex, but it only works for one act. If you took the morning-after pill today, then it will not be effective in preventing pregnancy if you have unprotected sex tomorrow. EC isn’t a free pass. After you’ve taken EC, it’s best to use another form of birth control, such as condoms, during any sexual activity.

What are the possible side effects of taking emergency contraception pills?

EC pills have not been shown to cause any serious complications. Your next period may not occur at the expected time. You may have irregular bleeding or spotting in the week or month after taking EC pills that goes away on its own. Other short-term side effects of EC pills can include the following:

  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting (especially if you are taking combined EC pills)
  • Breast tenderness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue

Is there anything that decreases the effectiveness of emergency contraception pills?

Being overweight or obese may decrease the effectiveness of EC pills. If you are overweight or obese, you may want to consider having a copper IUD inserted. Copper IUDs are effective in women of any weight.