Emergency Contraception: Myths vs Truths

Taking a PillEmergency contraception (EC) is a backup form of birth control for females. It can be used after unprotected sex, if a condom ripped or slipped off during intercourse, or if a woman forgot to take her birth control pill.

Here are some of the misconceptions about EC and the real truths:

Some say: “You can only take the emergency contraceptive pill on the morning–after unprotected sexual intercourse”

The truth is:
Although EC is sometimes referred to as the “morning–after–pill”, it can be taken up to 120 hours (5 days) after unprotected sexual intercourse. However, you shouldn’t wait until the fifth day to take it. Most EC works better the sooner you take it.

Some say: “Emergency contraception is just 1 pill”

The truth is:
Depending on the brand/type of emergency contraception, it can be 1–5 pills.

Some say: “Taking an emergency contraception pill causes an abortion”

The truth is:
Taking emergency contraception does not cause an abortion. EC will not work if a female is already pregnant. It only prevents pregnancy from taking place.

Some say: “Emergency contraception pills will make you sick”

The truth is:
Most women do not have side effects after taking EC. Some women may have mild nausea, but it’s temporary (1–2 days) and there is medicine that your health care provider can prescribe, if you need it.

Taking emergency contraception does not guarantee that a woman will not become pregnant. However, if it’s taken the correct way, it’s usually very effective. It’s important to understand that emergency contraception shouldn’t be taken as a routine form of birth control. If you are sexually active and do not have plans of becoming pregnant, talk with your health care provider about a regular form of birth control.