Can I Use Ordinary Birth Control Pills For Emergency Contraception?

taking daily birth control pills

Can Daily Birth Control Pills Can Be Used For Emergency Contraception?

Yes, some daily pills can be used as emergency contraceptives. Ideally however, if you have had unprotected sex and are worried about becoming pregnant, it would be better to take emergency contraception - also called the morning after pill - because it is specifically designed for purpose. If you are over 17 years old, the morning after pill doesn't require a doctor's prescription, you can buy it over the counter in most pharmacies. If for any reason you can't get to a pharmacy but you do have access to regular birth control pills, it may be possible to use these instead. It just requires taking a lot of them! Below is a list of birth control pills which have been declared safe and effective by the FDA in America for use as emergency contraception (we also give a list of brandnames approved in the UK and Ireland). They are considered effective for up to 120 hours after unprotected sex. So for example, if you have the brand Aviane, take 5 pills as soon as possible, and take a further 5 pills 12 hours later (ensuring that all 10 pills are taken within the 120 hour timeframe).

Note: The information on this page is not a substitute for medical advice provided by a qualified health care professional. Important: Not all daily birth control pills can be used in higher dosages for emergency contraception. Only the following have been approved to date:

United States: Daily Birth Control Pills - Dosage as Emergency Contraception

Brand Name First Dose
How Many Pills To Take:
Second Dose, 12 hours later.
How Many Pills To Take:
Manufacturer's Name
Aviane 5 pills 5 pills Teva
Cryselle 4 4 Teva
Enpresse 4 4 Teva
Jolessa 4 4 Teva
Lessina 5 5 Teva
Levora 4 4 Watson
Lo/Ovral 4 4 Akrimax
LoSeasonique 5 5 Teva
Lutera 5 5 Watson
Lybrel 6 6 Wyeth
Nordette 4 4 Teva
Ogestrel 2 2 Watson
Portia 4 4 Teva
Quasense 4 4 Watson
Seasonale 4 4 Teva
Seasonique 4 4 Teva
Sronyx 5 5 Watson
Trivora 4 4 Watson

United Kingdom: Daily Birth Control Pills - Dosage as Emergency Contraception

Brand Name Special Dosage Instructions
Progestin Only Birth Control Pills
Neogest Take 40 pills within 120 hours of unprotected sexual intercourse
Microval Take 50 pills within 120 hours.
Norgeston Take 50 pills within 120 hours.
Progestin/Estrogen Combined Birth Control Pills
Eugynon 30ED Take 4 pills within 120 hours and take 4 more pills 12 hours later. Note: If you have a 28-day pack, only the first 21 pills can be used.
Microgynon, Microgynon 30 ED, Microgynon-30 Take 4 pills within 120 hours and take 4 more pills 12 hours later. Note: If you have a 28-day pack, only the first 21 pills can be used.
Ovranette Take 4 pills within 120 hours and take 4 more pills 12 hours later. Note: If you have a 28-day pack, only the first 21 pills can be used.

Ireland: Daily Birth Control Pills - Dosage as Emergency Contraception

Brand Name Special Dosage Instructions
Ovranette, Ovranette 30 Take 4 pills within 120 hours after unprotected sex and take 4 more pills 12 hours later. Note: If you have a 28-day pack, only the first 21 pills can be used.
Microlite Take 5 pills within 120 hours after unprotected sex and take 5 more pills 12 hours later. Note: If you have a 28-day pack, only the first 21 pills can be used.
Miranova Take 5 pills within 120 hours after unprotected sex and take 5 more pills 12 hours later. Note: If you have a 28-day pack, only the first 21 pills can be used.

What is the difference between the emergency contraception pill and the normal pill?
Normal birth control pills are designed to be taken BEFORE sex to prevent pregnancy; they usually are taken every day in a 3 week cycle with a break on the fourth week. Emergency contraception is used to prevent pregnancy AFTER sex, and consists of a total dose of one or two pills. Basically both types of pills contain the same ingredients but the emergency pill contains a much higher dose.

Related Questions
What is emergency contraception?
How effective is emergency contraception?
What are the early signs of pregnancy before a missed period?
Questions on Daily Contraception Pill
Will I gain weight on the contraceptive pill?
Can you get pregnant while taking the pill?

• Like more information? See Birth Control Methods
• Got another question? See: Womens Health Questions

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