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Are There Any Long-Term Effects or Health Risks Associated With Emergency Contraceptive Pills?

Emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs) are often a subject of concern and debate, particularly regarding their long-term health effects. These pills, designed to prevent an unintended pregnancy after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure during sex, have become a crucial aspect of sexual & reproductive health. However, questions about their long-term safety remain.

In this blog, we delve into the current understanding of ECPs and their health implications, drawing from peer-reviewed research to offer a comprehensive overview.

Understanding Emergency Contraceptive Pills

An Emergency Contraceptive Pill (ECP) is a form of contraception or birth control that can help prevent an unintended pregnancy if taken after unprotected sex (when contraception was not used) or contraceptive failure (e.g. condom breakage, slippage or leakage during sex) has occurred.

An ECP is effective if used as soon as possible within 72 hours of the occurrence. It works primarily by preventing or delaying ovulation, and is not effective if a pregnancy has already begun.

It is only used as a backup for contraceptive emergencies, and is not meant for regular use.

How emergency contraceptive pill or morning after pill or plan b or ipill or unwanted pill work

Possible Short-Term Side Effects

Before discussing long-term risks, it's important to acknowledge the possible short-term side effects of ECPs.

Possible short-term side effects of ECPs can include nausea, dizziness, fatigue, headache, breast tenderness, and changes in menstrual cycle. These effects are typically mild and short-lived. However, if these symptoms persist, or affect your day-to-day life, you should consult a doctor for advice.

possible short term side effects of emergency contraceptive pill or morning after pill or plan b or ipill or unwanted pill

Long-Term Side Effects Or Risks

To date, extensive research has shown that ECPs are safe for most women and can be used when necessary without long-term effects.

A systematic review of possible adverse effects of ECPs shows no serious effects or special safety concerns with use of ECPs. Studies suggest that there is no increased risk of cancer, fertility issues, or other serious health problems associated with the use of ECPs.

Concerns about the potential effects of ECPs on fertility are common. However, research indicates that ECP use does not affect an existing pregnancy or a woman's ability to conceive in the future.

long term side effects of emergency contraceptive pill or morning after pill or plan b or ipill or unwanted pill


While emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs) may have potential short-term side effects, which are usually mild and temporary, current research does not support significant long-term effects or health risks.

As with any medication, it is important to use ECPs as directed and consult a doctor for personalized advice. Speaking to a doctor can provide personalized guidance and reassurance.


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


  • Clinical Drug Investigation. A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of the Adverse Effects of Levonorgestrel Emergency Oral Contraceptive. 2020.

  • Contraception. Safety data for levonorgestrel, ulipristal acetate and Yuzpe regimens for emergency contraception. 2016.

  • Contraception. Effect of levonorgestrel emergency contraception on implantation and fertility: A review. 2022.


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