Your 13-year old daughter and her friend are talking about an older friend who has taken the “morning after” pill. “Does it only work the day after having sex?”

This confusion happens because emergency contraception is often mistakenly called the “morning after” pill. Emergency contraception can be taken by a woman up to 72 hours (around three days, some pills can work up to five days) after having sex without using a condom, or if the condom splits.

Emergency contraception is available in pharmacies. It’s important that you are clear about contraception so that your daughter can make informed choices about how to prevent unwanted pregnancy if she does decide to have sex. Teenagers should know that emergency contraception is available, and can be effective in preventing unwanted pregnancy, but that it isn’t a regular and reliable form of contraception. You have to underline that it doesn’t protect from STIs. You can have your own opinion about it and you may want to share it with your daughter.

“A woman can take emergency contraception up to 72–120 hours after having sex, but it‘s more effective the sooner it’s taken. It can prevent an unwanted pregnancy if a couple’s usual contraception method hasn’t worked. But it doesn’t protect against STIs. Using a condom can help do that.”

“Emergency contraception can be taken up to three days after having unprotected sex, though it works best if you take it within 24 hours. It’s not a substitute for using a condom, as it doesn’t protect against infections. You can buy it from pharmacies if it is not provided free of charge.”