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Emergency pill: the facts

The morning-after pill is emergency contraception which can prevent conception after unprotected sex.

  • It works up to 72 hours (three days) after intercourse but the sooner it is taken, the more effective it is, according to the Family Planning Centre website.

  • It is also probably advisable to get a sexual health check to make sure the woman has not picked up a sexually transmitted disease

  • The emergency contraceptive pills are high dose oestrogen pills and are taken in two separate doses.

  • The first dose must be taken within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse, followed by the second dose 12 hours later.

  • While millions of women worldwide have used emergency contraceptives effectively, "it must be stressed that this is an emergency form of contraception and does not replace the ever-popular effective methods of regular contraception," the Family Planning Centre says.

  • The high-dose hormones act by delaying or inhibiting ovulation and/or by altering the transport of sperm along the tubes. They may also alter the lining of the entometrium, preventing implantation.