ECPs may be needed in many different situations. Many women do not know about them, however. Women who use contraceptive methods that depend on the user, such as pills and condoms, particularly benefit from learning about ECPs.

If possible, give all women who may need ECPs a supply in advance. If giving an advance supply is not possible, an advance prescription may be given in some settings or a woman can be told where to obtain them locally.

An advance supply is helpful because a woman can keep them in case she needs them. Women are more likely to use ECPs if they already have them when needed. Also, having them on hand enables women to take them as soon as possible after unprotected sex, when they will be most effective.

When to Use

  • Any time within 5 days after unprotected sex. The sooner after unprotected sex that ECPs are taken, the more effective they are.

ECPs Appropriate in Many Situations

Emergency Contraceptive Pills Within Five Day CalendarECPs can be used any time a woman is worried that she might become pregnant. For example, after:

  • Sexual assault
  • Any unprotected sex
  • Mistakes using contraception, such as:
    • Condom was used incorrectly, slipped, or broke

    • Couple incorrectly used a fertility awareness method (for example, failed to abstain or to use another method during the fertile days)

    • Man failed to withdraw, as intended, before he ejaculated

    • Woman has had unprotected sex after she has missed 3 or more combined oral contraceptive pills or has started a new pack 3 or more days late

    • IUD has come out of place

    • Woman has had unprotected sex when she is more than 4 weeks late for her repeat injection of DMPA, more than 2 weeks late for her repeat injection of NET-EN, or more than 7 days late for her repeat monthly injection