TOPIC

Can you use Microgynon as emergency contraception?

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Reviewed by Dr Melanie Davis-Hall on January 13, 2023

Microgynon on pink wavy background
We’ve been there, that “oh no” moment when you suddenly realise you’ve missed a pill or accidentally (maybe despite your best intentions) had unprotected sex. As a medical student, I often heard the rumour that taking 3 tablets of your Microgynon pill would work just like an emergency morning after pill. But is this true, can you use Microgynon as emergency contraception and does it work?

What’s the lowdown?

  • Microgynon is a popular combined pill, however, it is NOT safe to use as emergency contraception.
  • Instead, access emergency contraception such as EllaOne and Levonorgestrel via your healthcare professional or The Lowdown.
  • If you’ve missed your Microgynon pill, check our missed pill calculator to work out whether or not you need to use emergency contraception. 

Can Microgynon be used as an emergency pill?

An emergency contraceptive pill is used to prevent pregnancy after an episode of unprotected sex. Unprotected sex is sex without a condom or where your usual contraceptive can’t be relied upon e.g. where a condom broke or missing a pill. The morning after pill is designed to prevent ovulation (the release of an egg from the ovary) meaning that any sperm dies before it has a chance to meet an egg, fertilise it and for the fertilised egg to become a pregnancy.

There are 2 types of morning after pill: ellaOne (which contains ullipristal acetate) and pills which contain levonorgestrel. Neither the Microgynon pill or the Microgynon ED pill contain ullipristal acetate so cannot work in the same way as ellaOne to prevent pregnancy. Although Microgynon pills do contain the progestogen levonorgestrel, this is at a dose of 150 micrograms per pill. The levonorgestrel dose which is required to delay ovulation and work as emergency contraception is 1.5 milligrams which is equivalent to 1500 micrograms. Therefore, the amount of levonorgestrel required to prevent release of an egg is 10 times that found in one single Microgynon pill.

Can you take 10 Microgynon pills as emergency contraception?

No. You also have the added ingredient of oestrogen within a Microgynon pill. Taking 10 Microgynon tablets would mean you also take 10 times the recommended dose of oestrogen. Microgynon contains 30 micrograms of oestrogen. Doses above this can be associated with risks including blood clots and high blood pressure alongside other side effects including bloating, breast pain and mood swings. Due to the risk of taking a high dose of oestrogen do NOT use multiple Microgynon pills as emergency contraception as this amount of oestrogen is simply not safe for you to take.

What to do if you miss a Microgynon pill

If you miss a Microgynon pill and have recently had unprotected sex, don’t panic, you can follow the step by step guidance in our missed pill calculator. This may be to order the morning after pill or seek advice from your healthcare professional. If you have had sex without a condom, it’s always important to consider testing for STIs.

Using emergency contraception

Emergency contraception can be used to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex. The most effective form of emergency contraception is the copper coil as this can be used even after you have released an egg. The morning after pill is more effective if you take it as soon as possible after unprotected sex but may not work if you have already released an egg. It is advised to take a pregnancy test 3 weeks after the unprotected sex. Get 2 Clearblue tests from Amazon (affiliate link)

The morning after pill

Getting the morning after pill is thankfully really easy. It is available from most pharmacies, your local sexual health clinic, GP surgery or you can even order the pill online to be delivered to your door the next day. There are 2 different types of the morning after pill. Please read our guide on which morning after pill is the best. The morning after pill should be taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex to make it as effective as possible. If you vomit within 2 hours of taking the morning after pill, you should take another one.

As we’re living in the 21st century, you can even order the morning after pill to have one in the cupboard for future use, just in case there is another Oops moment!

We’ve been there, that “oh no” moment when you suddenly realise you’ve missed a pill or accidentally (maybe despite your best intentions) had unprotected sex. As a medical student, I often heard the rumour that taking 3 tablets of your Microgynon pill would work just like an emergency morning after pill. But is this true, can you use Microgynon as emergency contraception and does it work?
Tags
  1. FSRH Clinical Guideline: Emergency Contraception. 2020
  2. British National Formulary: Ethinylestradiol

One of The Lowdown’s fab Clinical Directors, Dr Frances Yarlett MBBCh (Hons) BSc (Hons) MRCP (2016) MRCGP DFSRH completed her medical training from Cardiff University in 2013. She is currently working as a salaried GP partner in Sheffield with an interest in complex medical patients and women’s health. Fran is really passionate about patient choice and wants to empower women to take control of their bodies and contraception needs.