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The ECP - Thinking Ahead

Monday, December 21, 2015


You’ve spent the last 364 days making sure you didn’t get pregnant, make sure you don’t slip up on New Year’s Eve!

If you think there’s even a small chance you could make a mistake with your contraception – or you don’t want there to be any margin for mistake, we recommend picking up an emergency contraceptive pill (ECP) in advance, to take on holiday with you.

With a prescription from us, you can pick up an ECP from any pharmacy for free.


We know there can sometimes be misinformation surrounding the emergency contraceptive pill, how it works and the effects it can have – let’s clear them up:

Misunderstanding 1: I have to use it the day after having unprotected sex

You can actually take the ECP up to 72 hours (three days) after unprotected sex, but the sooner you do, the more effective it will be (the ECP can be up to 98% effective).

The ECP used to be called the “morning-after pill” which is the reason this misunderstanding sticks around!

Misunderstanding 2: It’s like an abortion

No, the ECP is definitely not like an abortion. The ECP stops or delays the release of an egg from your ovaries, preventing sperm from fertilising the egg.

An abortion ends a pregnancy, whereas the ECP will not work if you are already pregnant. If you don’t know you are pregnant, and you take the ECP, it will not harm your baby.

Misunderstanding 3: I need a prescription to get it

You don’t need to go to a doctor for the ECP. You can get the ECP from a nurse at your local Family Planning clinic, or you can buy the ECP over the counter at most pharmacies.

This means you don’t have to worry about finding a doctor with an available appointment within the 72 hours. You can get the ECP anytime a pharmacy is open, a good option for weekends!

Misunderstanding 4: If I use it too many times, it will make me infertile

The ECP won’t have any effect on your chances of getting pregnant in future.

It isn’t a good idea to use the ECP as your regular method of contraception however, because it’s not as effective as other forms of contraception. You can talk to Family Planning for the best contraception option for you.

Misunderstanding 5: There might be side-effects in the future, especially if I take it lots of times

Studies show there are no long-term or serious side effects associated with taking the ECP. Like any medicine, there might be some short-term side effects though. For the ECP, these might be:

  • Nausea/vomiting – you can take it with food to minimise this
  • Changes to your next period

You may experience some, or none, of these side-effects.

Postinor, the ECP provided in New Zealand, contains only one hormone (progestin) and has fewer side effects than ECPs that contain estrogen and progestin.

Misunderstanding 6: The ECP is the only option

Instead of taking the ECP, you can have a copper IUD (intra uterine device) inserted, which will provide you with protection for five or more years.

If you weigh more than 70kg, the ECP is less effective, so an IUD could be the best option for you.


 So give yourself peace of mind this New Year’s Eve and consider taking an ECP on holiday with you.

Because believe us, mistakes do happen...

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

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