Emergency contraception

Metee Comkornruecha, Rebecca Sigourney, Maria Demma Cabral


Emergency contraception (EC) is defined as the use of any drug or device after unprotected intercourse, including sexual assault, in prevention of unintended pregnancy. Indications for EC include lack of contraceptive use during intercourse, and failure of a barrier or hormonal method of contraception. Unintended pregnancy affects a disproportionate number of adolescents and young adult women compared to adult women. Although teenage pregnancy rates continue to decrease, compared to other industrialized nations, the United States continues to have a higher rate of teen pregnancy. Increasing the knowledge and use of EC is one strategy to reduce unintended pregnancies in adolescents and young adult women. Understanding the methods, benefits, and limitations of available EC methods will assist medical practitioners in counseling these young women on the method that is best for them. Levonorgestrel (LNG) pill, ulipristal acetate (UPA) pill, and the copper intrauterine device (cu-IUD) are currently recommended methods for EC.