Planning Ongoing Contraception

  1. Explain that ECPs will not protect her from pregnancy from acts of sex more than 24 hours after she takes them. Discuss the need for and choice of ongoing pregnancy prevention and, if at risk, protection from STIs including HIV (see Sexually Transmitted Infections, Including HIV).

  2. If she does not want to start a contraceptive method now, give her condoms or a cycle of oral contraceptives and ask her to use them if she changes her mind. Give instructions on use. Invite her to come back any time if she wants another method or has any questions or problems.

  3. If possible, give her more ECPs to use in the future in case of unprotected sex. She may need them if she has unprotected sex again as soon as 24 hours after taking the previous ECPs.

Managing Any Problems

Problems Reported as Side Effects

May or may not be due to the method.

Slight irregular bleeding

  • Irregular bleeding due to ECPs will stop without treatment.
  • Assure the woman that this is not a sign of illness or pregnancy.

Change in timing of next monthly bleeding or suspected pregnancy

  • Monthly bleeding may start a few days earlier or later than expected. This is not a sign of illness or pregnancy.
  • If her next monthly bleeding is more than 7 days later than expected after she takes ECPs, assess for pregnancy. There are no known risks to a fetus conceived if ECPs fail to prevent pregnancy (see Question 3).