How Does Emergency Contraception Work?

Having access to emergency contraception helps prevent an unwanted pregnancy from occurring.

What Is Emergency Contraception?

Emergency contraception refers to contraceptive methods used to prevent pregnancy immediately after having unprotected sex. As its name suggests, emergency contraception should only be used in cases of emergency, and not meant to substitute primary methods such as a condom, birth control pills, injections, IUDs and others.

What Are the Options?

Emergency contraception is commonly known as the “morning-after pill”, a pill that releases hormones to prevent ovulation to stop an egg from being released and thicken the vaginal fluid to prevent sperm from fertilising it. They also prevent a fertilised egg from implanting into the uterine wall (pregnancy).

The other option is a copper IUD, which significantly reduces the changes of getting pregnant if inserted within 5 days of having unprotected sex.

Effectiveness and Risks

Hormone-based emergency contraception pills have an effectiveness of 75 to 85%, especially if taken within 72 hours after sexual intercourse. A copper IUD, on the other hand, is the most effective form of emergency contraception with an effectiveness of more than 99% if taken within the recommended period.

Both hormone-based pills and copper IUDs are generally safe and accessible to women; however, you should check with your gynaecologist if you have any other medical conditions or are taking any other medications.

Is It Safe?

Using emergency contraception is safe and will have no long-lasting effects, though some may experience mild side effects like headaches, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, breast tenderness and abdominal cramps. These should subside after 1 or 2 days. Should symptoms persist, do not hesitate to seek medical attention.

It is also important to note that emergency contraception should only be used to prevent pregnancy. It does not work on women who are already pregnant. Ending a pregnancy at this point should only be done by a Singapore abortion doctor and in an accredited abortion clinic to ensure that the procedure will be carried out safely.

Emergency contraception also does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The only contraceptive method known to do this is the condom.

Where Can I Get Emergency Contraception?

It is advisable to obtain emergency contraception in a gynaecologist’s clinic, to ensure that you are receiving safe and specialised care and advice.

Tel: +65 6455 0050 (W GYNAE Women’s Clinic)