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5 emergency contraception must-knows

 Contraception. [iStockphoto]

When you're worried about a pregnancy scare, emergency contraception (EC) might seem like the go-to solution.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, emergency contraception refers to methods of contraception that can be used to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sexual intercourse.

There are two types of EC; the copper intrauterine device (IUD) and EC pills. The EC pills have three types; ulipristal, progestin-only pills, and combined EC pills.

But before you decide, here's what you need to know:

1. It can't stop a pregnancy if you're already pregnant - EC works by preventing pregnancy before it happens, either by delaying ovulation or stopping fertilization or implantation.

2. The copper IUD is the most effective - Among EC options, the copper IUD is the most reliable, offering up to 99.9% protection and lasting up to 10 years.

3. EC pills aren't as dependable - While there are different types of EC pills, they're not as effective as the IUD and can cause side effects like headaches, vomiting, abdominal pain and irregular bleeding.

4. Time is of the essence - If you opt for EC pills, take them within three to five days after unprotected sex, depending on the type, for maximum effectiveness.

5. It won't protect you from STIs - Remember, EC doesn't protect against sexually transmitted infections. Consider getting tested and using barrier methods like condoms to prevent infections.

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