Emergency Contraception: An Essential Guide

In sexual health, knowing and understanding the options available to you is paramount. One such area often surrounded by misconceptions is emergency contraception. In this guide, we’ll demystify emergency contraception, explore its offerings at the clinic, and understand why one might need it.

What is Emergency Contraception?

Emergency contraception is used to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure (e.g., a broken condom). Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just a “morning-after pill”; multiple methods are available. Its primary aim is to offer a solution in situations where regular contraception was not used or failed.

Key Points:

  • It’s not an abortion pill and won’t work if a woman is already pregnant.
  • The sooner it’s taken after unprotected sex, the more effective it is.
  • It’s a backup method and shouldn’t be relied upon as a primary form of contraception.

Emergency Contraception at the Clinic

Our clinic offers a comprehensive suite of emergency contraception options:

  • Morning-After Pill: This pill contains either levonorgestrel (Plan B One-Step, Take Action) or ulipristal acetate (Ella). It should be taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex. The efficacy depends on how soon after sex it’s taken. The MAP can be dispensed at the clinic or we can provide a remote prescription if you are further away and unable to attend in person.
  • Copper IUD: This can be inserted up to 5 days after unprotected sex and has the added benefit of providing long-term contraception once in place. It’s one of the most effective emergency contraception methods available. (FYI Heidi, we only offer coil removals at the clinic)

Reasons for Emergency Contraception

There are several reasons someone might seek emergency contraception:

  • Unprotected Sex: Whether planned or unplanned, any sexual activity without protection poses a risk of pregnancy.
  • Contraceptive Failures: Include broken condoms, missed birth control pills, or issues with contraceptive patches or rings.
  • Missed Regular Birth Control: Forgetting to take the regular pill or being late for a contraceptive injection.
  • Sexual Assault: Unfortunately, there are situations where individuals may be sexually assaulted and want to prevent potential pregnancy.


Emergency contraception provides an essential safety net in reproductive health. Whether due to an unplanned situation, contraceptive failure, or any other reason, it offers a solution to prevent unwanted pregnancy. If you ever find yourself in need, know that our clinic is equipped with knowledgeable staff and effective methods to assist you. Always consult with a healthcare professional to understand which option is best suited for your situation.


Here are the top questions asked and answered in clinic

What is emergency contraception?

Emergency contraception is used to prevent pregnancy after unprotected intercourse or contraceptive failure. It is not an abortion pill and will not affect an existing pregnancy. It acts as a backup option when regular contraception fails or isn’t used.


How does emergency contraception work?

Emergency contraception will work in different ways depending on the type you decide to go with. The morning-after pill, such as Plan B, typically delays ovulation, ensuring the egg isn’t released to meet the sperm. Ella, another type of pill, blocks the hormone progesterone needed for pregnancy. The copper IUD can prevent the sperm from reaching and fertilising the egg.


How effective is emergency contraception?

The effectiveness of emergency contraception varies based on the method and how soon it’s used after unprotected sex. The morning-after pill is considered most effective if taken within 72 hours of intercourse but can still be taken up to five days later, albeit with reduced efficacy. The copper IUD is one of the most effective forms, with a failure rate of less than 1% when inserted within five days of unprotected sex.


Are there side effects to emergency contraception?

Yes, there can be side effects. Some women might experience nausea, fatigue, headache, dizziness, breast tenderness, or abdominal pain after taking the morning-after pill. Periods might come earlier or later than expected and could be lighter or heavier. With the copper IUD, side effects can include pain during insertion, cramping, or heavier periods.