The Health Advisory Clinic > News > Emergency Contraception and Morning-After Pills

Emergency Contraception and Morning-After Pills

Having unprotected sexual intercourse, or can be a great cause of concern for most women, especially if one is not yet ready for a baby. The emotional distress can be even more so with a failed contraception which can be nerve-wrecking. Fortunately, there are emergency contraceptive pills (morning-after pills) which has proven to be highly effective and safe in the prevention of unplanned pregnancies.

Morning-after pills can help prevent pregnancy if you:

  • Have had unprotected sex
  • May have missed a birth control pill
  • Failed to use birth control
  • Had a failed method of birth control
  • Was sexually assaulted

However, it is important to note that the morning-after pill primarily functions through delaying or preventing ovulation before the implantation. It does not end a pregnancy that has already been implanted.

Are emergency morning-after pills obtainable from the pharmacies?

In most countries, morning-after pills are available from your local pharmacy.

However, you will require a valid doctor’s prescription when purchasing emergency contraceptive pills in Singapore.

Should I be worried about these morning-after pills?

Though effective, morning-after pills does come with its share of side effects, with the most common side effects being headache, spotting, nausea, changes in your next menstrual cycle occurrence date (either slightly later or earlier) and possibly abdominal cramps.

How can emergency contraception prevent pregnancy?

The morning-after pills function by preventing or delaying your ovulation. In simple terms, it prevents the immediate release of an egg.

However, these emergency contraceptive pills will not work if the egg has already been implanted and does not terminate an existing pregnancy.

Where are the morning-after pills available?

There are 2 most common types of emergency contraception in Singapore which include:

  • Levonorgestrel: Effective up to 72 hours from the time of your intercourse.
  • Ulipristal acetate tablet: Effective up to 5 days after the time of intercourse.

Are they effective in emergency contraception?

Its effectiveness depends on how soon the medication is consumed after intercourse. When used correctly in accordance to your doctor’s prescription, morning-after pills tends to have a success rate of over 95%. However, emergency contraception not entirely foolproof. If you experience a delayed menstrual period, you are still recommended to take a urine pregnancy test immediately.

How regularly can I take morning-after pills?

As a general rule, you should not take morning-after pills more than once within one menstrual cycle as it does not provide long-term protection against pregnancy. It is also important to practice safe sex, as morning-after pills do not offer protection against sexually transmitted infections.

Are emergency contraceptive pills suitable for me?

If you suspect that you may be in danger of an unintended pregnancy, you can consult a doctor for emergency contraception. Morning-after pills may be used in many of the situations below:

  • To prevent pregnancy following an unprotected sexual encounter
  • You have missed your recommended doses of the birth control pill
  • Condom slippage or breakage
  • Suspicions of delayed or failed doses of other types of contraception

During your doctor’s consultation, your doctor will first have to confirm that you are not pregnant. You will also need to inform your doctor of any medical problems that you may be facing and if you are taking any long-term drugs, which may potentially cause an interaction with oral contraception pills.

What other alternatives are available to morning-after pills?

There are many other emergency oral contraceptive pills in the market. However, emergency contraceptives are not meant to be used as a method of contraception if you are sexually active.

There are many types of contraception with methods that range from short, preventive methods (such as hormone patches and birth control pills) to long-term and reversible methods including implants or IUD (intrauterine devices).

For instance, copper-bearing intrauterine device is usually inserted into the womb which functions as both emergency and long-term reversible contraception, however, it is accompanied by its risks as well.

Make sure you consult a doctor for further medical advice before deciding on the right method of contraception that works for you.


  1. Pazol, K., Zapata, L. B., Tregear, S. J., Mautone-Smith, N., & Gavin, L. E. (2015). Impact of Contraceptive Education on Contraceptive Knowledge and Decision Making: A Systematic Review. American journal of preventive medicine49(2 Suppl 1), S46–S56.
  2. Roth, M. Y., & Amory, J. K. (2016). Beyond the Condom: Frontiers in Male Contraception. Seminars in reproductive medicine34(3), 183–190.

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