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The Yuzpe method: Effective emergency contraception dating back to the ‘70s

Did you know there are four different types of EC? The Yuzpe method is one of them and it involves using the birth control pills you may already take.

Not everyone spent the ‘70s dancing to the Bee Gees at the local disco. In 1974, Professor A. Albert Yuzpe was busy conducting studies to prove the effectiveness of a new method of Emergency Contraception. He was so dedicated to this research that they named this approach after him.

The Yuzpe method is when a woman uses everyday birth control pills as Emergency Contraception (EC). By combining pills in a specific order, the estrogen and progestin in those pills work to prevent an unplanned pregnancy before it starts. This method is most effective when used within 72 hours after having unprotected sex.

To use the Yuzpe method, you take your birth control pills in two doses, 12 hours apart. It only works with certain brands, so you’ll have to check our chart to see if your pill can be used as EC. The chart also specifies how many pills you will need to take.

Brand 1st dose (pills) 12 hours later (pills)
Aviane 5 orange 5 orange
Cryselle 4 white 4 white
Enpresse 4 orange 4 orange
Jolessa 4 pink 4 pink
Lessina 5 pink 5 pink
Levora 4 white 4 white
Lo/Ovral 4 white 4 white
LoSeasonique 5 orange 5 orange
Low-Ogestrel 4 white 4 white
Lutera 5 white 5 white
Lybrel 6 yellow 6 yellow
Nordette 4 light-orange 4 light-orange
Ogestrel 2 white 2 white
Portia 4 pink 4 pink
Quasense 4 white 4 white
Seasonale 4 pink 4 pink
Seasonique 4 light-blue-green 4 light-blue-green
Sronyx 5 white 5 white
Trivora 4 pink 4 pink


You might be pretty freaked out over having to take EC in the first place, and that might make you want to take more pills than suggested. Don’t do it. The extra pills probably won’t reduce your risk for pregnancy, but they will probably make you feel queasy. Which leads us to another point…

Some women who use this method experience mild nausea and maybe even some vomiting. If you throw up within one hour of taking your pills (either the first dose or the second dose), you’ve got to call your health care provider. There’s a chance you could have thrown up the pills which would make this method ineffective. If that happens, you may need another dose and/or some anti-nausea medicine.

To help prevent you from feeling nauseous, take your pills with food. It also helps if you time your second pill so that you take it just before bed. That way, you’ll sleep through the nausea.

There’s also the potential for spotting, breast tenderness, and headaches. This is true with birth control pills in general and it’s usually nothing to worry about. That said, if you experience more severe side effects, please call your doctor. It’s always better to follow up with a health care professional when you have a reaction that concerns you.

Of course, if you’ve used up a bunch of your birth control pills as Emergency Contraception, you’ll need to talk to your doctor about how to get back on your regular pill schedule. Use a back up method like condoms until you get that stuff figured out.

When all of this is behind you, your next period should start within the following month. If it’s a week early or late, that’s pretty common. If you really don’t get it when you expect it, you should consider getting a pregnancy test. You’ll want to know what’s going on with your body, so consult your doctor too. They’ll be able to help you.

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