a purple IUD fitted in a clear tube

Can IUD be used as emergency contraception?

My friend Jess told me that an intrauterine device (IUD) can be used as an emergency contraceptive method. Is this true?

Yes, an IUD can be used as an emergency contraception.

The ‘morning after IUD’ can serve as an emergency contraception if you had unprotected sex or if the condom broke.

This is possible within 5 days after you’ve had unprotected sex and should only be fitted by a doctor. Once fitted, it can be left in and used as your regular contraceptive method and only taken out by a doctor or qualified medical professional.

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 from getting pregnant in the future. But you need to think about whether it’s the right kind of contraception to suit you – see the section on birth control.

You may feel some discomfort when the IUD is put in, but painkillers can help.

Pros and cons of using IUD as a contraceptive method:


  • Very good at preventing pregnancy
  • Can be used for years at a time
  • Can be used directly after giving birth, while breastfeeding, or after having an abortion
  • You can immediately get pregnant once the IUD is removed
  • Hormonal IUD can decrease periods
  • Both types of IUD reduce the risk of ectopic pregnancy, while the hormonal IUD protects against iron-deficiency anemia and reduces menstrual cramps


  • Can sometimes slip out of the uterus (expulsion) or, in rare cases, puncture the uterus (perforation)
  • It doesn’t protect against STDs
  • Risk of getting the pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) if insertion is done in the presence of sexually transmitted infection, within three weeks after insertion
  • Needs to be placed by a doctor
  • Hormonal IUD can be expensive
  • If you do get pregnant with an IUD, there is a higher risk of miscarriage and complications which would require immediate medical help

Always remember, that the IUD will not protect you from STIs, including HIV thus it is important to always have safe sex.

Related: All you need to know about the IUD

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