Emergency contraception (EC) is a form of birth control that is used after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure to reduce the risk of pregnancy. It is not intended to be used as a regular form of contraception.
There are two types of EC available: the copper intrauterine device (IUD) and emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs). The copper IUD can be inserted up to five days after unprotected sex and can also be used as an ongoing form of contraception. ECPs can be taken up to 72 hours after unprotected sex, although some types are effective for up to five days.
ECPs contain high doses of the hormones estrogen and/or progestin, which work by preventing ovulation. EC does not protect against sexually transmitted infections. It is also important to talk to a healthcare provider about any potential risks or side effects, as well as alternative forms of contraception.