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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.

Is Othro Tri-Cyclen lo on that chart? Is it Lo?

2011-06-01 05:53:47 UTC

girl01

First of all, thanks for your question and sorry for the uncustomarily delayed response! The short answer is 'no'--Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo is not on the chart; Lo/Ovral is a different type of pill. The hormones used in Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo (http://www.drugs.com/mtm/ortho... haven't been tested for use as emergency contraception, so it's unknown whether it could work and, if it could, what doses would be needed. All the pills on the Yutzpe list contain a hormone called levonorgestrel (in some cases it's in the form of norgestral, which contains levonorgestrel). Levonorgestrel belongs to a group of hormones called progestins. Any combined pill will have some type of progestin in it, but there are a few different options (examples: norgestimate, desogestrel, drospirenone). Only pills that contain levonorgestrel have been studied for use as emergency contraception, so those are the ones we've listed. Pills that aren't listed just haven't been studied for the purpose of emergency contraception, so you probably don't want to take a chance on something that might not work very well! If you're not sure whether or not your pill contains levonorgestrel, check with your provider: she should be able to tell you.

2011-09-29 19:50:53 UTC

Bedsider Medical Advisor

How effective is this method on preventing pregnancy compared to a method like plan B?

2012-01-26 17:50:20 UTC

Jazzyfred08

And with drospirenone pills?

2012-07-14 17:16:13 UTC

Catalina Pavez

As far as we know, desogestrel hasn't been studied for emergency contraception, so we can't recommend using it for that purpose. We'd suggest sticking to the list above!

2013-05-03 21:46:00 UTC

Bedsider Medical Advisor

As far as we know, desogestrel hasn't been studied for emergency contraception, so we can't recommend using it for that purpose. We'd suggest sticking to the list above!

2013-05-03 21:46:00 UTC

Bedsider Medical Advisor

That is a great question, but unfortunately scientists haven't done any studies on desogestrel as an emergency contraceptive, so we don't know the answer for sure. In the U.S. desogestrel is found only in combined hormonal contraceptive pills (Kariva, Mircette, Mercilon, Desogen, Apri, Solia, Ortho-Cept, Cyclessa, Velivet, and Cesia). None of these pills are recommended for the Yuzpe method of emergency contraception (http://bedsider.org/features/88). We do know that levonorgestrel, ulipristal acetate, and copper IUDs all work as emergency contraception (http://bedsider.org/methods/emergency_contraception#details_tab).

2013-07-01 17:38:55 UTC

Robin Wallace

That is a great question, but unfortunately scientists haven't done any studies on desogestrel as an emergency contraceptive, so we don't know the answer for sure. In the U.S. desogestrel is found only in combined hormonal contraceptive pills (Kariva, Mircette, Mercilon, Desogen, Apri, Solia, Ortho-Cept, Cyclessa, Velivet, and Cesia). None of these pills are recommended for the Yuzpe method of emergency contraception (http://bedsider.org/features/88). We do know that levonorgestrel, ulipristal acetate, and copper IUDs all work as emergency contraception (http://bedsider.org/methods/emergency_contraception#details_tab).

2013-07-01 17:38:55 UTC

Robin Wallace

That is a great question, but unfortunately scientists haven't done any studies on desogestrel as an emergency contraceptive, so we don't know the answer for sure. In the U.S. desogestrel is found only in combined hormonal contraceptive pills (Kariva, Mircette, Mercilon, Desogen, Apri, Solia, Ortho-Cept, Cyclessa, Velivet, and Cesia). None of these pills are recommended for the Yuzpe method of emergency contraception (http://bedsider.org/features/88). We do know that levonorgestrel, ulipristal acetate, and copper IUDs all work as emergency contraception (http://bedsider.org/methods/emergency_contraception#details_tab).

2013-07-01 17:38:55 UTC

Robin Wallace

It remains to be seen how big a money maker the morning after pill is. After all, you take it on suspicion of pregnancy, not a positive test. Will guys forget their condoms more with this fail-safe? Will gals say yes more often when not protected with this fail-safe? How unpleasant and costly will it be?

2013-09-06 18:38:52 UTC

David Pickett

been on the pill for about 3 weeks now... im now about a week late... took a test.. test came out negative.. whats going on???

2014-01-16 08:41:04 UTC

really confused and scared

Great question Jazzyfred08! Plan B is more effective than the methods listed above, and it's widely available over the counter. The methods above are good if someone does not have access to Plan B. I always keeping Plan B on hand 'just in case', so that it's available in an emergency.

2014-01-21 00:16:53 UTC

Colleen Krajewski, MD, MPH

Key to KNOW: the Yuzpe method has HALF the efficacy and twice the side effects of Levonorgestrel emergency contraception (e.g. Plan B, Next Choice, Take Action, My Way) so if you have access to Levonorgestrel EC or Ulipristal Acetate (ella) then use those INSTEAD. the Copper IUD is THE most effective EC.

2014-06-30 07:30:47 UTC

TeenMD

Key to KNOW: the Yuzpe method has HALF the efficacy and twice the side effects of Levonorgestrel emergency contraception (e.g. Plan B, Next Choice, Take Action, My Way) so if you have access to Levonorgestrel EC or Ulipristal Acetate (ella) then use those INSTEAD. the Copper IUD is THE most effective EC.

2014-06-30 07:30:47 UTC

TeenMD

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