Emergency Contraception

Emergency contraception is a safe and effective way to prevent unintended pregnancy after unprotected sex.

When would I need Emergency Contraception?

  • The condom broke or fell off during sex
  • You missed your birth control (pill, patch, or injection)
  • You did not use a form of birth control or condom when you had sex
  • After a sexual assault incident
  • Or any other circumstance in that you feel you may be at risk for unintended pregnancy

Emergency contraception is not a regular method of birth control. It is intended for occasional use only.

Types of Emergency Contraception

Morning After Pill

There are two types of “morning after pills.”

Plan B Morning After Pill (click to expand) »

(Other names: Contingency One, NorLevo, Option 2 or Next Choice)

Plan B is available over the counter at local pharmacies and does not require a prescription.

Plan B works best when taken as soon as possible within the first three days after unprotected sex. It can have some effect up to five days.

It may not work as well in individuals who weigh more than 165 pounds (75 kg). See Ella below for another choice.

Side effects could include:

  • Headache
  • Stomach upset
  • Dizziness
  • Breast tenderness

For more information about Plan B visit the Planned Parenthood website.

Ella (click to expand) »

Ella requires a prescription from your healthcare provider and works up to 5 days after unprotected sex. Ella is more effective than Plan B if:

  • It has been more than 3 days after sex
  • You weigh more that 75kg (165lbs)

it is important to notify your healthcare provider if you are currently using another method of birth control (birth control pill, patch, or ring), as it may decrease its effectiveness.

If breastfeeding, pump and throw out your milk for 24 hours after taking Ella.

Side effects could include:

  • Period changes (Heavier, lighter, or spotty)
  • Headache
  • Stomach upset

For more information about Ella, visit the Planned Parenthood website.

Remember, the sooner you take the morning-after pill, the more effective it is.

Copper IUD (Intrauterine Device)

The copper IUD is the most effective method to prevent unintended pregnancy when inserted into the uterus up to five days after unprotected sex. Copper IUDs also supply effective birth control for 8-12 years after it is inserted (or until removal). Inserting an IUD will require an appointment with your healthcare provider or a sexual health clinic.

Side Effects

A Copper IUD is a safe and effective birth control method with very few side effects.

After insertion of a copper IUD the following symptoms may occur:

  • Cramping or abdominal pain up to a few days after insertion
  • Heavier monthly periods
  • Stronger period cramps

For more information about copper IUDs, visit the Planned Parenthood website.

Emergency Contraception does not protect against Sexually Transmitted and Blood Borne Infections (STBBIs). If you have unprotected sex, it is important to get tested for STBBIs.

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Last updated: 2024-05-30