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Emergency Contraception

ECPs / Morning After Treatment

If you have had unprotected intercourse, and are certain that you do not want to be pregnant, you may want to consider using Emergency Contraceptive Pills (ECPs).

Are ECPs Right for You?

When you have sex without any birth control your risk of becoming pregnant depends on where you are in your menstrual cycle. During your most fertile days, midway between two menstrual periods, the risk could be as high as 30%.

If you use ECPs, your chance of becoming pregnant is reduced by about 75%. For example, a 30% risk would be reduced to no more than 8%.

Timing is everything!

ECPs must be taken as soon as possible, for sure no later than 120 hours after unprotected sex.

  • If you have had unprotected sex just once since your last normal menstrual period and that unprotected time was no more than 120 hours ago, ECPs make sense.
  • If you have had unprotected sex more than once since you last normal menstrual period, and the first unprotected time was no more than 120 hours ago, ECPs make sense.
  • If you have had unprotected sex more than once since your last normal menstrual period, and at least one of these times was more than 120 hours ago, you may already be pregnant.
  • If you are already pregnant, ECPs will not work. On the other hand, if you are not already pregnant, your very recent unprotected time would be a reason to consider ECPs.
  • If you would not have an abortion, you would need to weigh the benefit of avoiding pregnancy against the risk that the embryo will be exposed to hormones if ECPs fail or if you were already pregnant. In this case you should talk to your clinician, who can help you assess the pros and cons of using ECPs. If you are sure you would have an abortion, ECPs make sense.

Treatment of ECPs consists of two doses of hormone pills, with the first dose taken as soon as possible after unprotected intercourse. The hormones are estrogen and progestin, which are contained in regular birth control pills.

ECPs provide a short, strong burst of hormone exposure. This disrupts hormone patterns that are essential for pregnancy. Hormone release for the ovary is reduced, and development of the uterine lining is disturbed. These disruptions are temporary, lasting only a few days.

If you are interested in taking ECPs, they are available at your local pharmacy. If you have any questions regarding the use of ECPs, we would be happy to discuss them, please call our office.

 
 
5301 F Street, Suite 10 • Sacramento, CA 95819   Phone: (916) 446-0222 or (800) 954-2464