What Is Emergency Contraception?

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Emergency contraception is a method of birth control used after unprotected sex or a contraceptive failure, such as a broken condom or missed birth control pill. It is intended to prevent pregnancy by either delaying or preventing ovulation, fertilization, or implantation of a fertilized egg. In this article, we’ll share how emergency contraception works and other important information you should know about it.

There are two main types of emergency contraception available: oral emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs)—commonly known as the “morning-after pill”—and intrauterine devices (IUDs)

ECPs can be purchased over the counter at most drugstores and contain either levonorgestrel or ulipristal acetate, which are hormones that work to prevent ovulation and fertilization. They are only taken once after having unprotected sex.

Emergency IUDs—also known as copper intrauterine devices (which are different from hormonal IUDs)—have to be placed by a healthcare provider and prevent pregnancy through an inflammatory reaction produced by the copper, which is toxic to sperm and eggs. These IUDs are not only for emergency contraception and can be used as your regular birth control method for up to 8 to 12 years.


How Effective Is Emergency Contraception?

The effectiveness of emergency contraception varies depending on which method is used and when it is taken after unprotected sex. The sooner it is taken, the more effective it is at preventing pregnancy. 

If it is taken within 24 hours of unprotected sex, the morning-after pill is estimated to be 95% effective. However, its effectiveness decreases with time, with a lower success rate if taken more than 72 hours after unprotected sex. Copper IUDs, on the other hand, are up to 99.9% effective at preventing pregnancy if they are inserted within 5 days of having unprotected sex.


Are There Any Side Effects of Emergency Contraception?

Emergency contraception side effects also depend on which method you use. The side effects of the morning-after pill may include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, headaches, and changes in menstrual bleeding. These symptoms typically subside within a few days and do not cause any long-term health problems.

Some of the side effects of copper IUDs are similar to the morning-after pill and may also include pain during insertion, heavy bleeding, and worse menstrual cramps. IUD side effects generally clear up between 3 to 6 months after insertion.

It is important to note that emergency contraception is not an effective way to prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs). You should also speak with a healthcare provider before using emergency contraception, especially if you have any medical conditions or are taking other medications. Your healthcare provider can also provide you with information about other forms of contraception that may be more appropriate for your needs.

At Community Care Resources of Florida (CCR), we are dedicated to delivering the highest quality of care to those in our community by providing excellent medical services, therapy, and outreach to individuals affected by sexually transmitted diseases, HIV, Hepatitis C, and/or substance abuse. We strive to deliver healthcare with compassion and affordability to all.

Since our foundation, our goal has been to serve our Altamonte Springs, Hallandale Beach, and Haines City communities by providing access to care and resources that help our patients become healthier through safer practices with their partners. We have qualified technicians available to serve you. If you’re interested in our services, you can book an appointment on our website or call us at 1(877) 287-2520!

Contact any of our offices if you need testing and treatment.

106 Boston Avenue Suite 204
Altamonte Springs, FL 32701

Haines City:
280 Patterson Road, Suite 3
Haines City, FL 33844

Hallandale Beach:
1008 West Hallandale Beach Boulevard
Hallandale Beach, FL 33009