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Morning after pill / ECP

Did you have a problem with your regular contraceptive method? Did you forget to use protection? Don’t panic! You can take the morning after pill, an oral emergency contraceptive pill (ECP).

What is it?

The morning after pill isn’t a regular contraceptive. However, you can use it after unprotected or risky sex. The morning after pill is available from youth clinics (at CLSCs), medical clinics, your pharmacist without a prescription, your school nurse, or your doctor.

How does it work?

  • The morning after pill contains high doses of hormones that work in 3 ways: they prevent you from ovulating, they prevent a fertilized ovum from implanting in the wall of your uterus, and they prevent your partner’s spermatozoa from contacting your ovum.
  • You can take the morning after pill up to 5 days (120 hours) after having unprotected sex. The sooner you take it, the more effective it is. If it’s more than 5 days since you had sex, quickly see your pharmacist or doctor to talk about your options.
    The morning after pill doesn’t work if you weigh more than 80 kg (176 pounds). It doesn’t work as well if you weigh 75 to 80 kg (165 to 176 pounds). If you weigh more than 75 kg, consult your doctor to assess your options and the possibility of using a morning after IUD.
  • ECP cannot interrupt a pregnancy that has already started or prevent conception later in your cycle.

How do I use it?

You take the morning after pill in 1 or 2 doses, depending on your doctor’s prescription or your pharmacist’s advice. Take the first dose as soon as possible and the second one 12 hours later.

👍 Advantages

  • It’s an easy emergency method, with little danger for your health.
  • It’s easy to use in case you have unprotected sex.
  • It’s useful if you have a problem with your regular contraceptive method, for example, if a condom tore or you forgot to take your pill.
  • It’s used as an emergency measure for victims of sexual assault.
  • It’s a safe and easy way to avoid an unwanted pregnancy.
  • It’s free with your provincial health insurance card if you’re under 18.

👎 Disadvantages

  • It’s not a contraceptive.
  • It doesn’t protect you against BBSTIs.
  • It may affect your menstrual cycle so your period comes earlier or later than usual.
  • ECP can cause nausea, vomiting, headaches, dizziness, bloating, and abdominal cramps.
  • It can also cause vaginal discharge or irregular bleeding.
  • Consultation to get ECP is covered by provincial health insurance if you’re over 18 but the pill itself costs about $20. If you don’t have a health insurance card, you’ll need to pay about $45 to $50.

You might be embarrassed about asking your pharmacist for the morning after pill. Don’t worry! Pharmacists are used to this and their whole purpose is to help you and make you feel better. If your period’s late, see your doctor or a nurse.