E-pills, emergency contraception

Emergency contraception

E-pills, also called morning-after or emergency contraception pills, are drugs you can take when you have had unprotected sex and think that you could be pregnant.
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You need to take them as soon as possible after the unprotected intercourse, preferably within 24 hours. After that, they become less effective. The e-pill is available over the counter, which means you can go straight to the pharmacy and without a doctor's prescription.

It might even make sense to have an e-pill at home just in case you ever need it. Then you don’t have to stress about rushing to the chemist, in case of an emergency.

There are two types of emergency contraception pills however only one is currently available in Kenya. The available pill is progestogen-only (using the hormone levonorgestrel) generally referred to as P2. Another form of emergency contraception is the copper IUD. However, this needs to be put in by a medical provider.

There is no limit as to how many times you can use the emergency-pill in a year. However, the e-pill does have short-term side effects that mean it should not be used as a normal form of contraception, but only in case of emergency.


  • Helps prevent pregnancy in cases of failed or forgotten contraception, or rape
  • Gives peace of mind
  • Easy to get


  • Can change the timing of next period (early or late)
  • No STD protection
  • Needs to be taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex

Is the e-pill the same as an abortion pill?

E-pills are not abortion pills. The e-pill works in various ways, but can't do anything if an egg is already fertilized.

If you are already pregnant and take the e-pill, it will have no negative effects on your pregnancy.

How do I get e-pills?

You can get the e-pill over the counter or from your healthcare provider. Because it is most effective the faster you take it, many health care providers even suggest getting an emergency pill and keeping it at home just in case.

Studies have found that keeping e-pills at home doesn't mean you are more likely to have unprotected sex.

What are the side-effects of e-pills?

  • Breast tenderness
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting
  • Dizziness

How safe are e-pills?

E-pills have a high concentration of hormones and can cause considerable short-term side effects. That's why e-pills should be used only in case of emergency, and are not recommended as a normal method of birth control.

There seem to be no long-term side-effects known for emergency-contraception pills.
There are some cases of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) reported with the use of the e-pills.

Who shouldn't use e-pills?

  • Women with undiagnosed abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Women with a history of DVT (deep vein thrombosis)
  • Women with acute migraines
  • Women with a BMI higher than 35

What can stop e-pills from working properly?

If you vomit soon after taking the pill, it may be less effective. Talk to a healthcare provider as soon as possible to find out what your options are.

In both cases, consider the copper-T IUD as emergency contraception.

How long does its effect last?

Scientists are not quite sure how long the effect of the e-pill lasts. So don't assume that, after you took an e-pill, you will be protected from unintended pregnancies for a period of time. You need to take an e-pill every time you've had unprotected sex.

Can I take an e-pill before having sex?

No research has been done on this, and the manufacturers don't recommend it. Taking an e-pill before having sex could prevent an unintended pregnancy, but we don't know for sure.
Also, if you take it beforehand, you might as well choose a better option, like a condom.


The progestogen-only pill makes the mucus around your cervix thicker so the sperm can’t get through. It can also stop ovulation while also releasing a hormone that makes it harder for sperm to travel up towards the egg. You get either two doses of 750mg each that you have to take 12 hours apart or one dose of 1.5mg.

If taken within 24 hours it is 95 per cent effective. The longer you wait before taking e-pills, the less effective they are. They are most effective if taken between 12 and 24 hours after unprotected sex. If taken later, they can still be effective for 72 hours after intercourse, but then your chances of getting pregnant are higher. If taken between 49-72 hours the pill is only 58 per cent effective.

Progestogen-only pills work less well for women who are overweight. If you have a body mass index (BMI) higher than 35 then it is suggested to use the Copper IUD as emergency contraception.

Don’t know your BMI? Use a calculator to figure it out!

Progestogen-only pills can even be used several times in one cycle if needed, though should not be used as a normal form of birth control. For more regular forms of birth control check out our section on birth control methods.

The 'morning after' IUD

Another kind of emergency contraception is the ‘morning after IUD’. You have to have it fitted by a doctor. This is possible four to five days after you’ve had unprotected sex. You can find more information here.

This is actually just the same as having an IUD fitted as a contraceptive. Once it’s in, you can just leave it in place to stop you getting pregnant in future. But you need to think whether it’s the right kind of contraception to suit you – see the section on birth control.

Riddle ID

Did you learn something new?

I took the E pill bt the cramping is too much again i exprienced the spotting and i av not recieved my periods can i be pregnant
Hey Ann, You may need to take a pregnancy test to determine if you are pregnant or not. Remember the effectiveness of the pill reduces as time passes within the first 72 hours after sex.
Thu, 07/20/2017 - 08:56 pm
I once was diagnosed with PID and Cz v Neva done abortion n I WS told that p2 has that effect so now I advocate better FP than E-pill Cz it has -ve side effect to the body that will Neva b shown in those leaflet
Hi Cate, Abdominal pain or cramping is one of the expected mild side effects expected. You could consult a medical provider for a check up if this has been going on long, they may just prescribe some pain killers for the moment.
Hi Marie, this is not an expected outcome. One of the major causes of vaginal dryness during sex is a lack of arousal. Spending more time in foreplay may help. Check out this article;- https://lovematters.co.ke/making-love/sex-problems-how-to-overcome-them/painful-sex-and-periods
I slept with my partner but we used condom that night, but in the morning i took epill, now it's one month have not seen my periodI tested for pregnant and it was negative and what could be wrong?
Hey Agy, You seem to have taken measures to prevent pregnancy. Periods can be delayed by a number of reasons other than pregnancy including stress, hormonal imbalances, extreme exercises, change of environment or eating habits. Taking the E-pill can also cause your periods to be delayed by a few days.
Mon, 01/01/2018 - 08:54 am
Me n my girlfrien hv unprotected sex..she took ipills within 24 hrs..but she vomit after 3hrs of taking ipills..does she nid to take another ipills..plzz help!
Mon, 01/01/2018 - 09:47 pm
Hi Lorance, Vomiting within three hours increases the risk of the pill not working. It is advisable to take another pill if one vomits within this time.
Thu, 01/04/2018 - 04:09 am
hi, took p2 the day I first got my period on 4th Dec. I took it again this month, on my expected date on 31st Dec. Both times, he had come inside. My periods have delayed 4 days. Is it likely that I might be pregnant yet I wasn’t ovulating when he came? Please help
Thu, 01/04/2018 - 09:25 pm
Risper, Taking P2 can affect your cycle where it is delayed by upto a week or comes a week earlier. I suggest you give afew more days. If they don't come consider taking a pregnancy test between the fourteenth and twenty first day from the last time you had unprotected sex. Check out the following article;- https://lovematters.co.ke/our-bodies/female-body/menstruation
Kelvin Kariukim
Mon, 01/29/2018 - 10:52 pm
Hi Rianne, She does not need to take anymore pills.5 hours is enough to get the pill in the system. You and your partner need to consider use of long term contraceptive as an alternative. Find out more here https://lovematters.co.ke/birth-control/contraception-top-five-facts .
we had sex using a condom bt on one round we didnt n I took epills within 24hr range bt i feel abit uncomfortable in my abdomen. i fear i might be pregnant coz i suspect i was within the ovulation period. plizz help
Tue, 02/20/2018 - 11:06 pm
Hi Jane, What kind of help do you need? Have you taken a pregnancy to be sure? Have a look at this article;- https://lovematters.co.ke/pregnancy/unsure-about-being-pregnant/am-i-pregnant
Fri, 03/16/2018 - 06:18 pm
It now two weeks since I remove implant in my arm, Bcoz he insisted I must so we can get married. During this tym I feel lyk there is samthing wrong, I don't have apatite the way I used too,vomiting and diarrhoea are my best friends nowadays, help me

Hi Kirui, the E-Pill is effective when taken within the first twenty four hours after having sex. You didn't say how much time had passed between the time she took the pill and when you actually had unprotected sex. Its effectiveness will reduce as time passes.

Hi Esther, Yes, the E-pill will affect you next period where it either comes early or late. Check the article above. Also, if you find that you need to use the E-pill often you may need to get a birth control method since the E-pill should be for emergency situations. 

Hey Mercy, the E-Pill is more effective when taken within 24 hours of having unprotected. The longer one waits the less effective it becomes. It depends with the dosage of the pill you took. The E-pill will have some side effects for instance periods may come early or late. Check out this article for more information;- https://lovematters.co.ke/birth-control/types-of-birth-control/is-one-emergency-pill-enough 

Hey Sima, there is no way to tell if you are pregnant or not. However the E-pill can change the timing of your next period so that the period comes early or late. There are other reasons that can cause ones period to delay including stress, change in diet and intense exercises. It maybe important for you to wait and have a pregnancy test 14 days to find out if you are pregnant. Check out the following articles for additional information;- 



Hi Larice, the effectiveness of the pill is not compromised by how many times you have sex but by when it is taken. It is more effective when taken within the first 24 hours after having unprotected sex. Check out this article;- https://lovematters.co.ke/birth-control/types-of-birth-control/is-one-emergency-pill-enough
Hey SHaron, Aspirin is not an Emergency Contraception Pill. Aspirin is commonly used as a pain killer. Check out this article for more information on the Emergency Contraception Pill;- https://lovematters.co.ke/birth-control/types-of-birth-control/emergency-contraception-top-five-facts
Hey Rose, are you taking about the Emergency Contraception Pill (E-Pill)? The E-Pill, when taken within the first 24 hours after having unprotected sex, is 95 per cent effective. This means there is a 5 per cent chance of failure or one getting pregnant. It is encouraged to use a second method to prevent such chances, for instance, condoms. Check the article above for additional information.
Hi Molly, P2 works when taken within 72 hours of having unprotected sex. When taken within the first 24 hours it is 95 per cent effective. The longer you wait before taking e-pills, the less effective they are. Check out the following article for more information;- https://lovematters.co.ke/birth-control/types-of-birth-control/emergency-contraception
Mon, 04/16/2018 - 03:57 pm
Sir.....me nd my gf had sex ..nd after 4 hour he take the pill .i want to know is only one pill can prevent the pregnancy or ...can all the woman feel the side effects of the pill...please answer sir...
Hi Swagat, the Emergancy Contraception pill is 95 per cent effective when taken within the first 24 hours after having unprotected sex. Taking one pill, may or may not work in preventing pregnancy. There are side effects that come with taking the pill and they are different from person to person. They include Breast tenderness fatigue, headaches, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and dizziness. Have a look at this article for more information;- https://lovematters.co.ke/birth-control/types-of-birth-control/is-one-emergency-pill-enough
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