Sexual and reproductive health

Emergency contraception

Statement on mechanism of action

International Consortium for Emergency Contraception (ICEC)
International Federation of Gynecology & Obstetrics (FIGO)

How do levonorgestrel-only emergency contraceptive pills (LNG ECPs) prevent pregnancy?

  • Inhibit or delay an egg from being released from the ovary when taken before ovulation;
  • Possibly prevent the sperm and the egg from meeting by affecting the cervical mucus or the ability of sperm to
    bind to the egg.

Safety of levonorgestrel-alone emergency contraceptive pills

Emergency contraception can prevent most pregnancies when taken after intercourse. It provides an important back-up in cases of unprotected intercourse or contraceptive accident (such as forgotten pills or torn condoms), and is especially valuable after rape or coerced sex. This fact sheet refers to levonorgestrel-alone emergency contraception pills (LNG ECPs), which are available in most countries.

Emergency contraception database

References regarding the use of emergency contraception were compiled from Medline. The references are in chronological order starting with the first paper published on the topic in 1968 up to the last publication retrieved at the indicated date of the last update.

Emergency contraception pills... too expensive?

Emergency contraception

Using MINIPILLS as an emergency contraception.

Emergency contraceptive pills are often too expensive for individuals or family planning clinics in developing countries, because of the costs of marketing and packaging, and manufacturers’ profit margins.