Interventions for emergency contraception

RHL practical aspects by Mittal S


For emergency contraception to be effective, timing is critical. Hence, emergency contraception should be provided at the primary health-care level, including in private clinics, pharmacies, out-patient departments of hospitals as well as primary health centres, where such methods are easily accessible to potential consumers. To provide emergency contraception effectively, health-care workers will need to be trained in counselling techniques as well as in the proper follow-up of users. An efficient distribution system for regular supply of drugs to this level will need to be established. There would also be a need to counsel women for follow-up use of regular contraception to prevent further contraceptive emergencies.


Emergency contraception will also need to be offered at this level along with related counselling services. In addition, this level would need to provide back-up abortion services for failures resulting from the use of emergency contraception. Women undergoing an induced abortion should be counselled about regular as well as emergency contraception to avoid unintended pregnancies in the future. Health-care workers at this level would also need to involve themselves in the training of peripheral health-care workers in the provision of emergency contraception.


Public awareness about emergency contraception in under-resourced settings is low. Hence, there is a need to inform people, especially women, that emergency contraception exists as an option and that several methods are available. Public awareness campaigns for this purpose should be undertaken at the community level, keeping in mind the local culture. Women should be informed about the importance of using modern contraceptive methods for regular contraceptive needs and emergency contraception as a back-up method.

Acknowledgement: Consortium on National Consensus for Emergency Contraception in India. New Delhi: All India Institute of Medical Sciences; 2001.

This document should be cited as: Mittal S. Interventions for emergency contraception: RHL practical aspects (last revised: 1 November 2008). The WHO Reproductive Health Library; Geneva: World Health Organization.


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