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Emergency Contraception

Barefoot Couple

Having unprotected sex or contraceptive failure can cause undue stress. 


It is not always possible to get into your doctor or family planning for emergency contraception.  Our pharmacists are all accredited to provide emergency contraception, they are available 7 days a week, 364 days a year to help with emergency contraception, no appointment is needed. 

What is the emergency contraceptive pill (ECP)?

The emergency contraceptive pill contains Levonorgestrel, a synthetic progestogen similar to Progesterone.

It can be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex or contraceptive failure.  It is most effective when taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure, ideally within the first 24 hours. 

It is also know as Plan B One-Step, Next Choice, My Way, Take Action, Aftera, EContra EZ, Fallback Solo, Opcicon One-Step, React and Postinor. 

How effective is the ECP?

The emergency contraceptive pill will be most effective if you take it as soon as possible after unprotected sex.

It is ideal to take the ECP within 24 hours, but it can prevent pregnancy if taken up to 72 hours after unprotected sex.

The ECP has been shown to prevent:

  • 95% of expected pregnancies when taken within 24 hours of unprotected sex

  • 85% if taken within 25 - 48 hours

  • 58% if taken within 49 - 72 hours

The ECP does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). If you have any concerns speak with one of our pharmacists, doctor or family planning clinic.


How the ECP works?

The ECP prevents pregnancy by delaying the release of an egg from your ovary until sperm are no longer active, and changing the lining of your uterus so a fertilised egg cannot implant and develop.


The ECP is for emergency use only and is not a substitute for regular contraception.

Possible side effects

You may experience the following side effects but they should resolve within a few days:

  • Breast tenderness

  • Dizziness

  • Headache

  • Nausea

  • Tiredness

  • Vomiting

If vomiting occurs within three hours of taking the ECP, you need to return to the pharmacy to get another dose which should be taken immediately. 

Your next period will probably come at the expected time, but it may be early or late, and it could be heavier than usual.

You should make an appointment to see your doctor immediately if:

  • Your next period is unusually light or heavy, more than 5 days late or, if you’re taking oral contraceptives and there is no bleeding in the pill-free interval

  • If you have any lower abdominal pain

It’s recommended that you use a barrier contraceptive (condoms) until your next period.

If you use a contraceptive pill, keep taking the hormonal pills as normal and use additional barrier protection for seven days. If you have less than seven hormonal pills left in the packet, you should continue with the next pack and omit the seven day break or placebo (sugar) tablets.

When you might be referred to your doctor or Family Planning Clinic

  • If there is a chance you could be pregnant

  • If you are greater than 70kg, or BMI greater than 26

  • If you have diabetes, high blood pressure, breast cancer, bowel disease

  • If you are taking certain medicines such as barbiturates, primidone, phenytoin, carbamazepine, topimarate, rifampicin, rifabutin, ritonavir, nevirapine, nelfinavair, tacrolimus, griseofulvin, St John’s Wort, cyclosporin

  • If you have a hypersensitivity or an allergic reaction to levonorgestrel

  • If it is over 72 hours since unprotected sex or contraceptive failure

  • If the pharmacist is worried that you are not able to provide informed consent 

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