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Emergency contraception - ECP

Te ārai hapū ohotata

There are two types of emergency contraception available in New Zealand.

Emergency contraception can be used after unprotected sex to protect against pregnancy.

Emergency contraception does not protect against STIs. A nurse or doctor can help you decide if you need an STI test.  

Learn more about the copper IUD as emergency contraception.


The emergency contraceptive pill, or ECP, is approved to be taken up to 72 hours (three days) after unprotected sex, but research shows it is effective up to four days after sex. The sooner you take it, the better.

For women of an average weight, the ECP is 98% effective.  

For women who weigh more than 70kg, the ECP is less effective and a copper IUD would be recommended. If you want to take the ECP, you should take a double dose - two ECPs together.

When do I need emergency contraception?

  • you haven't used protection
  • your normal contraception fails e.g. condom splits
  • you have missed one or more contraceptive pills (the number of missed pills that matters depends on which type of pill you are taking and whether you take the hormone pills every day or have a monthly break)
  • you have been vomiting or had diarrhoea while on the pill
  • you have missed your injection
  • you have been forced to have sex without contraception.

Where can I get THE ECP?

You can get a free funded prescription for the ECP at any Family Planning clinic. If you need an ECP straight away, you may be given it at your appointment.

We can also give you a prescription for the ECP in advance, so you can have a pill at home, just in case.

You can also buy the ECP directly from most pharmacies, but it may be more expensive (usually between $35 and $50).

Family Planning has clinics located throughout New Zealand. Use the clinic finder to find your nearest clinic.