Emergency contraception

Te ārai hapū ohotata

There are two types of emergency contraception available in New Zealand.

  • Emergency contraceptive pill (ECP)
  • Copper intra uterine device (IUD)

Emergency contraception can be used after unprotected sex to protect against pregnancy.

Emergency contraception does not protect against STIs. A nurse can help you decide if you need an STI test.  


The emergency contraceptive pill, or ECP, is approved to be taken up to 72 hours (three days) after unprotected sex, but research shows it is effective up to four days after sex. The sooner you take it, the better.

For women of an average weight, the ECP is 98% effective.  

For women who weigh more than 70kg, the ECP is less effective
and a copper IUD would be recommended.

Copper IUD-

A copper intra uterine device, or IUD, is put in the uterus to prevent pregnancy.

It can be inserted up to 120 hours (five days) after unprotected sex, or within five days of your earliest expected date of ovulation.

The IUD can stay in your uterus for five years or more, and it is 99% effective.

When do I need emergency contraception?

  • you haven't used protection
  • your normal contraception/ārai hapū fails e.g. condom splits
  • you have missed more than one contraceptive pill
  • you have been vomiting or had diarrhoea while on the pill
  • you have missed your injection
  • you have been forced to have sex without contraception.

Where can I get emergency contraception?


You can get a $5.00 prescription for the ECP at any Family Planning clinic. We can also give you a prescription for the ECP in advance, so you can have a pill at home, just in case.

You can also buy the ECP directly from most pharmacies, but it will be more expensive (usually between $35 and $50).

Copper IUD-

A copper intra uterine device must be inserted by an experienced nurse or doctor. You can make an appointment at Family Planning to have a copper IUD inserted. You may need to have two appointments at the clinic for this.

Family Planning has clinics located throughout New Zealand. Use the clinic finder to find your nearest clinic.

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