Is it Too Late for the Morning-After Pill?It can happen to anyone. Sometimes, in the heat of the moment, you don’t have time to protect yourself properly during sexual intercourse or, for various reasons, you may be concerned that your contraceptive method is not fully effective. Can the morning-after pill only actually be taken the day after?
The day after is ideal
The sooner you act, the sooner you will reduce the risk of an unwanted pregnancy. Ideally, you should consult a pharmacist or other healthcare professional within 24 hours of unprotected sexual intercourse to obtain emergency contraception (morning-after pill). In Canada, there are two products available:
- Levonorgestrel (e.g., Plan B)
- Ulipristal (Ella)
They are most effective when taken within the first 24 hours (95% to 100% effective).
Morning-After Pill Effectiveness: Up to 5 days after unprotected sexual intercourse
Levonorgestrel and ulipristal remain effective up to 120 hours (5 days) after unprotected sexual intercourse. However, it is best to act as quickly as possible, because with each passing day, their efficacy is reduced.
As of 72 hours (3 days) after unprotected sexual intercourse, ulipristal is generally considered the slightly more effective of the two drugs, however levonorgestrel is still a valid choice when ulipristal is not an option.
Copper IUD: an excellent option up to 7 days after unprotected sexual intercourse
A copper intrauterine device (IUD) is the most effective emergency contraception option, even up to 7 days after unprotected sexual intercourse (99.9% effective). However, this method may be harder to access, as it requires an appointment with a doctor (or a nurse in some provinces) to have it inserted in the uterus. An IUD is a non-hormonal method.
If the woman so desires, she can keep the IUD in as a long-term contraception method. Copper IUDs are effective for several years. Alternatively, she can have it removed at the end of her next menstrual cycle.
Where can I go for emergency contraception?If you think you need emergency contraception, talk to your pharmacist as soon as possible. She or he will help you determine the most effective method for you. If hormonal emergency contraception is an appropriate option, you can obtain it from your pharmacist. Conditions vary from one province to another. If it is too late for this option, your pharmacist will refer you to a healthcare professional who can assess whether a copper IUD is a good option for you.
The information contained herein is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide complete information on the subject matter or to replace the advice of a health professional. This information does not constitute medical consultation, diagnosis or opinion and should not be interpreted as such. Please consult your health care provider if you have any questions about your health, medications or treatment.