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Taken the ECP? Here’s an important next step

Tuesday, August 29, 2017


So you’ve had an “oh no” moment, you’ve taken the ECP and now you’re wondering if it’s worked and what you should do next?

The good news is that the ECP is 98% effective if you take it within four days of unprotected sex, so there is a very good chance that you won’t be pregnant.

However to be sure, we always recommend taking a pregnancy test three weeks after unprotected sex.

You can do this at a Family Planning clinic or you can buy a test from a pharmacy or supermarket.

If you’ve missed your period or your period is much lighter or different than usual, it’s also a good idea to take a pregnancy test.

Changes or delays to periods are the most common side effect of taking the ECP – so don’t panic just yet.

It’s important to remember that most people won’t experience any side effects though.

The ECP is a very safe medication and can be taken more than once.  If you do find yourself needing to take it more frequently, it might be a good idea to think about contraception that gives you really good protection – and peace of mind.

A Family Planning nurse will be able to help you choose a method of contraception that works for you.

If your period arrives on time, and is not shorter or lighter than usual, then there is no need to do a pregnancy test (unless you really want to be sure!)


A few things to know about the ECP:

  • The ECP is approved to be taken up to three days after sex, however for most women it is still effective up to four days after sex.
  • If you weigh more than 70kg, the ECP is less effective and an emergency copper IUD is recommended. If you decide you want to take the ECP, you can take a double dose - two ECPs together.
  • It doesn’t work if the egg has already been fertilised.
  • If the egg has already been fertilised (you are pregnant) the ECP will not harm you or the developing embryo.
  • The ECP should not be used as a regular form of contraception.

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

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