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Eur J Contracept Reprod Health Care. 2008 Mar;13(1):9-16. doi: 10.1080/13625180701781096.

Emergency contraception: a review.

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Department of Gynaecologic Sciences, Perinatology and Child Care, University la Sapienza, Rome, Italy.


Emergency contraception (EC), also known as 'the morning after pill', or post-coital contraception, is a modality of preventing the establishment of a pregnancy after unprotected intercourse. Both a hormonal and an intrauterine form are available. Modern hormonal EC, with low side effects, was first proposed by Yuzpe in 1974. More recently, a new regimen, consisting of levonorgestrel administered alone, was introduced and found in clinical trials to be more effective (if taken as early as possible), and associated with less side effects than the Yuzpe regimen, which it has gradually replaced. The WHO developed another regimen based on the use of the selective progesterone receptor modulator (antiprogestin) mifepristone and conducted trials with different dosages. Intrauterine EC was first proposed by Lippes in 1976. It has the advantage of being applicable for almost a week and the disadvantage of a greater complexity. In addition, this modality is solely interceptive, acting by preventing implantation. Pregnancy rates reported following EC using an intrauterine device with more than 300 mm2 of copper are consistently low (0.1-0.2%).

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