Emergency contraception

If you have had unprotected sex and are worried about being pregnant, you may want to take use emergency contraception. There are 2 types available, the emergency contraceptive pill (the morning after pill) or a copper IUD.

If someone had sex with you when you did not want them to you can get free advice and support 24 hours a day by contacting Safe to talk.

Emergency contraceptive pill (ECP)

The ECP prevents pregnancy by delaying the release of an egg from your ovary until sperm are no longer active.

The ECP is most effective if you take it as soon as possible after unprotected sex. Within 24 hours is best, but it can prevent pregnancy if taken up to 72 hours (3 days) after sex.

It will not prevent pregnancy if taken any later than 96 hours after unprotected sex.

In women less than 70kg, the ECP prevents pregnancy 98% of the time, if taken correctly.

If you are over 70kg, the recommended method of emergency contraception is a Copper IUD as this is more effective.

If you choose to take the ECP, you will need to take double the dose. There are no studies to show how well this works.

Side effects of the emergency contraceptive pill

Some people feel sick after taking the emergency contraceptive pill. It helps to take it with food.

If you throw up (vomit) within 3 hours of taking the pill, you will need to take another one.

How to get the emergency contraceptive pill

People of any age can get the emergency contraceptive pill. You can get it from:

You may have to pay for emergency contraception.

What to do after taking emergency contraception

After you have taken the emergency contraceptive pill, use other protection such as condoms until your next period.

Your next period should come when you expect it, but it may be early or late. It could also be heavier than usual.

If you do not get your next period, or it is very light, you should take a pregnancy test.

See your healthcare provider or Sexual Wellbeing Clinic for a Sexual Transmissible Infection (STI) screen and to discuss ongoing contraception.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Do not take the emergency contraceptive pill if you have had a positive pregnancy test. The pill will not cause an abortion if you are already pregnant.

If you take the emergency contraceptive pill and still become pregnant, there is no evidence your pēpi will be harmed.

Taking the emergency contraceptive pill will not affect your chances of getting pregnant in the future.

The emergency contraceptive pill is generally safe to take while breastfeeding. Check with your doctor, midwife or healthcare provider if you are concerned.

Copper IUD

This is the most effective (99%) method of contraception and can be used up to 5 days after unprotected sex. It is the recommended option if you are over 70kg.

A small device is placed in your womb (uterus) through the opening at the top of your vagina (cervix).

A doctor or nurse will need to place the device. This is a simple procedure which usually takes 5-10 minutes.

The device can be taken out with your next period or left in for up to 10 years to provide ongoing contraception.

Your usual Healthcare provider may be able to provide an IUD or you can contact your local Sexual Wellbeing Clinic.

Find a clinic — Sexual Wellbeing Aotearoa (external link)

Intrauterine contraceptive device (internal link)