The fourth edition of the clinical summary of emergency contraceptive pills (ECP) provides a two-page overview of ICEC’s Medical and Service Delivery Guidance. New information on the hormone UPA and new studies on the influence of BMI on effectiveness are briefly discussed, as well as how ECP regimens work, their efficacy and safety, guidelines on repeat use, and considerations for starting or resuming regular contraceptives following ECP regimens.
This section contains fact sheets, blog posts, technical statements, clinical guidelines, journal articles and publications focusing on policies and access. Several publications focus on sexual assault and humanitarian settings. For more information on specific themes, please visit the EC Issues Pages. Many of our publications are available in multiple languages.
Updated in 2018, the Medical and Service Delivery Guidance is ICEC’s most widely distributed publication. Designed to serve as a key reference and training document for service provision, it includes a range of medical and service delivery issues in an easy to use format, from screening, dosages, and counseling to EC pill regimens. Local programs can adapt this guidance as necessary to comply with national or other requirements. Available in English, Spanish, and French
This brief is designed to answer decision-makers’ most commonly asked questions about emergency contraception. It provides concise responses to questions such as why EC access is important, how EC works (and how it differs from abortion), and how safe and effective EC is. It also addresses other concerns like provision of EC over the counter and provision of EC to youth.
Both emergency contraception and medical abortion are crucial components of women’s reproductive health worldwide, but confusion between the two has presented several challenges to broader EC access. This fact sheet explains significant differences between emergency contraceptive pills, which do not terminate or interrupt established pregnancies, and medical abortion regimens.
The mechanisms through which EC prevents pregnancy after unprotected sex have been extensively researched and over 20 studies have been published on this topic over the last forty years. The overwhelming evidence is that the method works primarily through preventing ovulation with a possible effect on sperm function. The International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) has endorsed this statement, which is posted on their website.
This document highlights resources – including websites, technical guidelines, and articles – that provide information on the provision of EC in crisis-settings, including for refugee and internally displaced persons (IDP) populations.
Social marketing has greatly increased access to emergency contraception in several countries, but a number of factors have hindered the technique from reaching its full potential elsewhere. Social marketing refers to the sales or promotion – via advocacy, advertising, training, and outreach – of EC by the NGO community. Surveying four social marketing organizations and the International Planned Parenthood Federation, ICEC explored the reasons behind the success stories, along with the barriers that have resulted in more limited success in other contexts.
Concerns continue about emergency contraception pills’ mechanism of action, impact on behavior, and safety, in spite of growing evidence refuting each of these claims. What is rarely discussed is the fact that few women anywhere in the world consistently have easy access to EC. Moreover, for those who are aware of EC, numerous access challenges remain, including concerns about privacy, cost, and in some settings, the ability to find a pharmacy with pills in stock. Policy and regulatory barriers also exist. These challenges point to a number of promising opportunities to expand global access to EC. Authors: Elizabeth Westley, Eleanor Bimla Schwarz
Demographic and Health Surveys are conducted in many countries and often include questions on whether women are familiar with EC and have ever used it. ICEC compiled all DHS results on EC knowledge and use and found that these indicators are still very low.
Updated in 2012, the Medical and Service Delivery Guidelines are ICEC’s most widely distributed publication. Designed to serve as a key reference and training document for service provision, it includes a range of medical and service delivery issues in an easy to use format, from screening, dosages, and counseling to EC pill regimens. Local programs can adapt these guidelines as necessary to comply with national or other requirements.
The copper IUD for EC is the most effective way to prevent pregnancy after unprotected intercourse and can protect a woman from unintended pregnancy for many years. Because of these advantages, the copper IUD should be regularly offered to women who seek EC. This fact sheet outlines the clinical and service delivery considerations for offering IUDs for EC.
ICEC, together with the World Health Organization’s Department of Reproductive Health and Research and their Implementing Best Practices (IBP) Initiative, hosted an on-line forum on EC in March 2011. Aimed at reproductive health and family planning service providers, academic/research professionals and country-level advocates, the forum explored EC access around the world, EC and post-rape care, EC’s mechanism of action and effectiveness, religious and legal opposition to EC, emerging and underutilized methods, and repeat use of EC. This report contains key information that was generated by the forum.