Emergency Contraception (EC)

(Content revised 06/2019)

All Maternal and Child Health Centres (MCHCs) provide Emergency Contraception Service during service hours. Women may also attend an Accident and Emergency Department, Family Planning Association, Private Hospitals or Private Doctors' Clinics outside MCHCs' service hours.

  • Emergency contraception provides a way of preventing unwanted pregnancy. It should not be used as a regular contraceptive method.
  • Please contact a doctor for emergency contraception to prevent an unwanted pregnancy for the following situations:
    • No contraception used
    • Missed oral contraceptive pills
    • If you had a contraceptive failure or accident (such as a broken or slipped condom)

Emergency Contraceptive Methods Include:

1. Insertion of Copper Intrauterine Device (Cu IUD)

  • In suitable clients, a copper intrauterine device (Cu IUD) may be used as emergency contraceptive method within 5 days (120 hours) of unprotected intercourse. Please consult a doctor for suitability to use Cu IUD as emergency contraceptive method as Cu IUD must be inserted by a doctor.
  • It is the most effective EC method and the failure rate is less than 0.1% in suitable women.
  • As an IUD can be used for several years, it may be a regular contraceptive option for women who want longlasting contraceptive protection.
  • Before you consider to use Cu IUD as your emergency contraception, you can refer to the leaflet “Information for Intrauterine Device Users (FHS-WH1A)” for more information on the insertion procedure on IUD.

2. Taking Emergency Contraceptive Pills (EC Pills)

Two types of EC pills are available in Maternal and Child Health Centres (MCHC)

  Ulipristal Acetate (UPA) Levonorgestrel (LNG)
Timing for use Taken within 120 hours Taken within 72 hours
Failure rate 1 to 2% 2 to 3%
Mode of action Primarily by stopping or delaying the release of eggs from the ovary. EC Pills do not induce abortion.
Side effects Serious side effects are uncommon. Minor side effects include nausea, vomiting, headaches,dizziness, fatigue, breast tenderness, abdominal pains and irregular vaginal bleeding.
Next Menstrual period
  • Menstrual period could come on time or a few days early or late.
  • If your period is more than a week late, or if you have any concern, consult your doctor.
Points to Note
  • If you vomited within 3 hours after taking the EC pill, you need to take another dose of EC pill.
  • Emergency contraceptive pills can only prevent pregnancy after single unprotected intercourse and there is no further protection if you have subsequent unprotected intercourse. Use a regular contraceptive method to prevent pregnancy in the future.
  • Based on available information, there is no evidence suggesting pregnancy after taking EC pills would be abnormal or the baby would be harmed by EC pills.
Can it be used by breastfeeding women? After taking UPA, lactating women should stop breastfeeding for 7 days.
  • LNG will be secreted into breastmilk. Potential exposure of an infant to LNG can be reduced if the lactating woman takes the drug immediately after breastfeeding.
  • According to the research evidence, no adverse effects due to LNG have been found on both the quality and quantity of breastmilk or on the health, growth and development of the breastfed baby.