Emergency contraceptive prevents pregnancy after unprotected sexual intercourse. Emergency contraception can be used when a condom breaks, after a sexual assault, or any time unprotected sexual intercourse occurs. It should not be used as your only protection against pregnancy. There are two types of emergency contraceptive pills (sometimes called the "morning after pill").
One type contains only the hormone called progestin. It is more effective than combination pills and the risk of nausea and vomiting is also lower. The other type of ECP uses a combination of hormones (estrogen and progestin) found in some kinds of regular birth control pills. Side effects can include nausea and vomiting.
The current treatment schedule is one dose within 72 hours after unprotected intercourse and a second dose 12 hours after the first dose. A recent large study found that ECPs should be taken as soon after unprotected intercourse as is practical. Most women can safely use emergency contraceptive pills, even if they cannot use birth control pills as their regular method of birth control.
IUDs can also be used as a form of emergency contraception. The copper-T intrauterine device (IUD) can be inserted up to five days after unprotected intercourse to prevent pregnancy. The IUD can then be left in place for up to 10 years if long-term contraception is desired.