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Emergency Contraceptive Pills (ECP) - Safety and Indications

Written by
Dr. Sujata Mittal
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

Published on Jul 18, 2017 and last reviewed on Sep 07, 2018   -  3 min read


Emergency contraception is meant for emergency use to prevent unwanted pregnancy. It is not an abortion pill and is not for regular use, as it has side effects.

Emergency Contraceptive Pills (ECP) - Safety and Indications

Safety and Indications:

Nearly half of the pregnancies are unintended, and this is particularly true for teenagers all over the world. Unsafe abortions are a major cause of maternal mortality in some countries, accounting for approximately 8 % of maternal deaths.

As science has progressed, there have been tremendous improvements in contraceptive choices for both women and men. Nevertheless, it is imperative that information spread should be such that clear message is sent to the public in general. As an end user, it is important for the public to understand the utility, safety, and side effects of the drug, as some of the drugs are available over-the-counter like I-pill, Unwanted 72, or Plan B.

What is ECP (Emergency Contraceptive Pills?

As the name suggests, these pills are to be used only in emergency and offer 95 % protection from unwanted pregnancy. Emergency contraception refers to methods of contraception that can be used to prevent pregnancy after sexual intercourse. These are recommended for use within 72 hours, but they are more effective the sooner they are used after the act.

Two methods are recommended by WHO (World Health Organization), one is emergency contraceptive pills, and other is copper-bearing intrauterine devices.

Indications of When to Use Emergency Contraceptive Pills:

  1. When no barrier contraceptive has been used.
  2. Sexual assault.
  3. Condom breakage, slippage, or incorrect use.
  4. Three or more consecutive missed oral contraceptive pills.
  5. Missed Progestin-only birth control pill by more than three hours from the usual time of intake.
  6. Missed Desogestrel pill by more than 12 hours.
  7. Late by four weeks in taking injection Depo-Provera (Medroxyprogesterone acetate).
  8. More than seven days late for combined contraceptive injection.
  9. Tearing or dislodgement of the cervical cap.
  10. Failed withdrawal during ejaculation.
  11. Failure to calculate the safe period days.
  12. Spermicidal jelly or tablet failed to melt before the contact.


  1. Restart birth control pills as soon as possible.
  2. ECP should not be used more than two times a month.
  3. ECP is not a substitute for oral contraceptive pills.
  4. If you vomit immediately after taking the pill, you need to repeat the dose immediately.

Types of ECP (Emergency Contraceptive Pills)


A pregnancy rate of 1.2 to 2.1 % has been reported with Emergency Contraceptive Pills.

Side Effects of Emergency Contraceptive Pills

General Facts

So, emergency contraceptives are an essential aspect of contraception, but it should be used with caution.

For more information consult an Obstetrics and Gynaecologist Online --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/obstetrician-and-gynaecologist


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Last reviewed at:
07 Sep 2018  -  3 min read




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