Postcoital contraception means contraception after sex. It is also called the “morning after contraception.” This is one type of contraception recommended for certain special emergencies such as rape. It is also recommended after unprotected intercourse or contraception failures such as condom tears.
The process of fertilization begins after unprotected intercourse. It takes approximately seven days for a fertilized egg to reach the uterus where it will implant in the uterus and begin development.
Postcoital contraception is effective only when used within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse. It interferes with the process of fertilization. The hormonal contraception methods available target the process of fertilization.
There are two methods of postcoital contraception:
IntraUterine contraceptive device:The insertion of a Copper T intrauterine device is a simple technique. It is effective when inserted within 5 daysof unprotected intercourse.
Hormonal methods:These are effective only when used within 72 hoursafter sex. Various hormonal methods and drugs are available.
Levonorgestrel:Two doses of 0.75mg levonorgestrel are given. The first tablet is given within 72 hours and the second dose given 12 hours after the first. A single tablet of 1.5mgs is also available that can be taken all at once. This is one of the most popular methods and a commercially available brand called Plan B, has recently become popular.
Oral contraceptive pills:Two tablets of 50mcg of ethinyl estradiol within 72 hours and the same dose again after 12 hours of the first dose (popularly known as Yuzpee method).
Mifepristone:10mg tablet should be taken all at once within 72 hours. It acts by inhibiting cell division and causes the breakdown of fertilized cells. The medication destroys a fertilized egg and provides contraception.
Contraception can be provided even after sex and it is effective. The failure rate of emergency contraception is less than 1%. However, this is not a preferred type of contraception. It is reserved only for emergency purposes.