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What is the Emergency Contraception Pill?

Medically reviewed by Stephanie Nera, RPh, PharmD · Pharmacology

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Sep 20, 2023

What is the Emergency Contraception Pill?

No matter how effective your birth control method is in preventing pregnancies, accidents (such as a broken condom) can still happen. It’s during these accidents when an emergency contraception pill becomes useful. Here’s what you need to know about the morning-after pill.

What are emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs)?

Emergency contraceptive pills are pills that prevent pregnancy after engaging in unprotected sex.  They are also known as morning-after pills, but you don’t have to wait until the next morning to take them. You can take them immediately after noticing that your birth control method has failed or when you’ve had sex after a missed or late dose of your regular contraception.

Most brands are effective when taken within 120 hours or 5 days after unprotected intercourse, but some are best taken within 72 hours.

Reports indicate that the emergency contraception pill has a success rate of 98 percent for women with average weight who take it within 72 hours. However, they should not replace your regular oral contraceptive pills.

How do morning-after pills work?

Morning-after pills contain either levonorgestrel or ulipristal acetate, medications that prevent ovulation or the process where the ovaries release mature egg cells. Since there’s no egg cell, fertilization cannot happen and pregnancy is prevented.

Does emergency contraception cause an abortion? 

Morning-after pills do not cause abortion. In case you’re already pregnant before taking the morning-after pill, it will not affect the developing fetus in your womb.

Who can take ECPs?

Women of reproductive age who’ve had unprotected sex and want to prevent unwanted pregnancy can use an emergency contraception pill. Most women, even those under the age of 16, can take ECPs unless they are allergic to its contents or have severe asthma. Doctors also do not recommend the morning-after pill for women who take medications that may cause drug interactions. Examples of these medications include:

  • John’s Wort
  • Drugs for epilepsy, tuberculosis, and HIV
  • Omeprazole or other medications that make the stomach less acidic
  • Some types of antibiotics such as rifampicin and rifabutin

Are emergency contraceptive pills available in the Philippines?

Pharmacies and clinics in the Philippines do not sell morning-after pills, but some online stores and sellers offer them—usually at a hefty price (around 3,500 PHP or higher). Buying medicine online from unverified sellers can be extremely risky as it’s difficult to determine if the pills are authentic and safe.

What are your emergency contraception options?

Without morning-after pills, is emergency contraception still an option for Filipinas? According to experts, yes, it still is. Instead of pills, women can choose between two other emergency contraception methods: copper IUD insertion and the Yuzpe method.

Copper IUD

According to WHO, a copper-containing intrauterine device is the most effective form of emergency contraception with a 99 percent success rate if inserted within 5 days after unprotected intercourse. It prevents pregnancy by causing chemical changes in the sperm and egg cells before fertilization occurs.

An IUD is also generally safe; reports say that less than 2 cases of pelvic inflammatory disease take place per 1000 users. Moreover, you can choose to leave it inside your uterus to serve as your primary birth control method.

Likewise, IUD is the preferred form of emergency contraception for women weighing more than 70 kilograms.

what is the emergency contraception pill

Yuzpe method

Another emergency contraception method besides morning-after pills and copper IUD is the Yuzpe method or the combined oral contraceptives (COCs). In this method, you need to take several oral contraceptive pills in two doses, 12 hours apart.

The extra contraceptive effects cause a surge of hormones that can lead to side-effects such as dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and irregular vaginal bleeding. In case you vomit within 2 hours after taking COCs, you need to repeat the dose.

The Yuzpe method is best done under your doctor’s supervision. They will guide you on the types of oral contraceptives and their doses. To be effective, you must take COCs within 5 days after unprotected intercourse.

Key Takeaways

An emergency contraception pill prevents unwanted pregnancy after unprotected sexual intercourse. However, morning-after pills are not available in the Philippines. The best options so far are copper IUD insertion and the Yuzpe method.

Learn more about Contraception here


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Stephanie Nera, RPh, PharmD


Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Sep 20, 2023

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