Cochrane Summaries

Trusted evidence. Informed decisions. Better health.

Methods of emergency contraception

Cheng L, Che Y, Gülmezoglu A
Published Online: 
23 December 2013

Emergency contraception is using a drug or copper intrauterine device (Cu-IUD) to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex. This is a back-up and not a regular contraceptive method. Mifepristone, ulipristal acetate and levonorgestrel are very effective with few adverse effects, and are preferred to an oestrogen and progestogen combined regimen. Levonorgestrel could be used in a single dose (1.5 mg) instead of two split doses (0.75 mg) 12 hours apart.  The copper IUD is the most effective emergency contraceptive method and is the only emergency contraceptive method to provide ongoing contraception if left in situ.