Emergency contraception helps displaced women exert control over their reproductive lives
This page contains key facts and statistics on the subject of Emergency Contraception. Click on 'Overview', 'Facts & Statistics' or 'Stories from the Field' for more detailed information on the topic, in different formats.
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- Emergency contraception is not a form of abortion, but is the ability to prevent ovulation and fertilization.
- Emergency contraception, which does not disrupt an established pregnancy, can reduce the risk of pregnancy if taken within five days after exposure; the sooner it is taken the better, as efficacy decreases with time.1
- Emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs) can prevent unwanted pregnancies if used within 120 hours (up to 5 days) of unprotected intercourse. There are two ECP regimens that can be used: the levonogestrel-only regimen (recommended) and the combined estrogen-progestogen regimen.2
- An intra-uterine device (IUD) is a form of effective contraception and can be used within 7 days after unprotected intercourse.3
- Depending on the method used, emergency contraception can reduce a woman’s risk of becoming pregnant from a single act of intercourse by up to 99 percent.
- Existing services should ensure the availability and provision of emergency contraception for women and girls that have had unprotected sexual intercourse.
- Ensuring access to emergency contraception is important in light of increased risk of gender-based violence (GBV) in crisis settings. In addition, other components of post-rape care as defined by the WHO/UNHCR 2004 Clinical Management of Rape Survivors protocol should also be made available from the onset of an emergency.
- While vulnerability of all women to sexual violence increases in crisis settings, adolescent girls are especially in need of access to emergency contraception as they are at risk, yet can be neglected in the provision of reproductive health services.
- If contraception were accessible and used consistently and correctly by women wanting to avoid pregnancy, maternal deaths would decline by an estimated 25–35%.4
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1 For more information on emergency contraception, see relevant chapters of Reproductive Health in Humanitarian Settings: An Inter-agency Field Manual, Inter-agency Working Group on Reproductive Health in Crises, revised for field-testing, 2010.
2 Inter-agency Working Group on Reproductive Health in Crises. “Chapter 2: Minimum Initial Service Package.” Reproductive Health in Humanitarian Settings: An Inter-agency Field Manual, Inter-agency Working Group on Reproductive Health in Crises, revised for field-testing, 2010.
3 Inter-agency Working Group on Reproductive Health in Crises. “Chapter 2: Minimum Initial Service Package.” Reproductive Health in Humanitarian Settings: An Inter-agency Field Manual, Inter-agency Working Group on Reproductive Health in Crises, revised for field-testing, 2010.
4 Curtis, C., D. Huber, et al. (2010). "Post abortion family planning: addressing the cycle of repeat unintended pregnancy and abortion." Int Perspect Sex Reprod Health 36(1): 44-8.
Updated December 2010. Please note: while this site is periodically updated, it is up to the user’s discretion to verify that the facts provided are the most current.
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