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Is An Emergency Contraceptive Pill Safe?

The Emergency Contraceptive Pill (ECP) has emerged as a pivotal tool in managing reproductive health and preventing an unintended pregnancy. With the rise in it's usage, a common question that surfaces is: Is an ECP safe?

This blog delves into the safety of an ECP, shedding light on it's mechanism, side effects, and considerations for use.

What Is An Emergency Contraceptive Pill?

An Emergency Contraceptive Pill (ECP) is a form of contraception or birth control method that can help prevent an unintended pregnancy if taken as soon as possible within 72 or 120 hours (depending on the type of pill used) after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure has occurred. This pill, also known as the morning-after pill or plan B, is not intended for regular use, but only as an emergency measure.

The main types of ECPs include the commonly available Levonorgestrel (LNG) pill and the less widely available Ulipristal Acetate (UPA) pill. These pills work primarily by delaying or inhibiting ovulation. The Levonorgestrel (LNG) pill can help prevent an unintended pregnancy if taken as soon as possible within 72 hours (3 days) after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure, while the Ulipristal Acetate (UPA) pill is effective up to 120 hours (5 days).

Emergency Contraceptive Pill Morning After Pill

Safety Of Emergency Contraceptive Or Morning-After Pills

ECPs are recognized for their safety, with numerous studies indicating minimal risk of serious side effects if used correctly. However, it is still important to know the possible side effects that can occur and how to minimize or manage them.

Possible Minor Side Effects of ECPs

While ECPs are safe for most individuals, they can cause minor side effects such as:

  • Nausea

  • Fatigue

  • Headache

  • Dizziness

  • Breast tenderness

  • Changes in menstrual cycle

These are generally mild and temporary, and not indicative of long-term health risks. However, if these persist or worry you, it is advisable to consult a doctor.

Side effects of Emergency Contraceptive Pill or Morning After Pill

Considerations for Use

It is crucial to understand that an ECP:

  • is not intended for use as a regular contraceptive method.

  • does not work if a pregnancy has already begun.

  • does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

  • must be used as soon as possible after unprotected sex for maximum effectiveness.


An Emergency Contraceptive Pill (ECP) offers a reliable option for preventing an unintended pregnancy following unprotected sex. It's safety profile is well documented, with side effects being generally mild and transient. It is essential, however, to use ECPs responsibly and as directed, considering them a part of broader reproductive health management rather than a standalone solution.

By staying informed and making educated decisions about ECP use, individuals can effectively manage their reproductive health with confidence.


This blog, including its text, images, and infographics, are for educational purposes only and not a substitute for professional medical advice. For personalized advice, always consult a doctor.

Further Reading

For more details on this or related topics, refer to the papers listed in references below, the FAQs on the ECP page, or other blogs on the Learn page of our website


  • World Health Organization. Emergency contraception. 2021.

  • International Consortium for Emergency Contraception (ICEC) and International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO). Emergency Contraceptive Pill: Medical and Service Delivery Guidance. 2018.

  • Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. Guidelines for Administration of Emergency Contraceptive Pills by Health Care Providers. 2008.


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