This article reviews information on currently available postcoital contraceptives, and discusses recent advances in postcoital contraception, mostly notably RU 486.
Postcoital contraceptives, or "morning after pills," are currently available in the form of high dose estrogens, oral contraceptives, danazol and intrauterine devices. These methods are plagued by high incidences of side effects and less than optimal success rates.
Currently, their primary use in the adolescent age group is for victims of sexual assault, but they may also be used as back-up for consensual unprotected intercourse. RU 486, best known as a first trimester abortifacient, has a number of potential uses, including that of a postcoital contraceptive. Two recently published studies from the UK showed RU 486 to have a very low pregnancy rate and fewer side effects when compared with current methods. RU 486 may someday replace high doses of oral contraceptives as the method of choice for postcoital contraception.