Forgot to take your pills?
Missed a shot?
Forced to have sex?
No matter how it happened, if you've had unprotected sex, you still have up to five days to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.
Emergency Contraception n. a medication to prevent pregnancy should be taken as soon as possible or up to five days (120 hours) after sex without birth control a concentrated dose of the same hormones in regular birth control pills not the same medication as RU-486 (the abortion pill) Also called: Plan B®, EC, the Morning After Pill. For more information click here.
There are two ways to prevent pregnancy using Emergency Contraception:
1. Plan B ® is the most common method of emergency contraception because:
- It is designed to prevent pregnancy after sex
- It works the best
- It has the fewest side effects
- It is available without a prescription to women aged 18 and older
- Women under age 18 can get a prescription from their healthcare provider
In some states, women of all ages, including those under 18, may obtain Plan BŪ directly from a pharmacy without visiting a doctor first. Click here to find out more.
2. Regular birth control pills (also called oral contraceptives or "the Pill")
While Plan BŪ works well and is safe, it is not always available-some pharmacists do not stock Plan BŪ or refuse to fill prescriptions and those under age 18 may not have access to a health care provider that will guarantee them privacy, even when the law requires that they do so. In these situations some brands of regular birth control pills can be used as emergency contraception.
The number of regular birth control pills a woman should use when she can't get PlanBŪ depends on the type or brand of regular birth control pills she has. Some don't work as emergency contraception at all - so you should be sure to check out whether the brand you have can be used and exactly how to use it. Click here to find out more about which brands can be used as emergency contraception.
Remember that if you use regular birth control pills as emergency contraception, the pack of regular birth control pills will no longer have enough pills to protect you from pregnancy for the rest of the month. You must use condoms every time you have sex until your next period, and then start a new pack of regular birth control pills as you normally would after your period.
A Few Facts About Emergency Contraception (EC)
- You can use EC if you had unprotected sex or if you didn't use regular birth control properly (for example, you forgot some pills or your partner didn't use a condom correctly). EC also can prevent you from getting pregnant after rape.
- EC can still work if you take it as late as five days (120 hours) after sex, but it works better the sooner you take it.
- EC will not hurt you or affect your ability to get pregnant in the future.
- EC will not cause birth defects if you are already pregnant.
- EC does not provide any protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV, the virus that causes AIDS (only condoms can help protect against HIV and many other STIs.
- EC may cause some unpleasant side effects - like nausea and headaches. These side effects only last a few hours.
- Plan B usually costs between $35.00 - $50.00, though some Planned Parenthood or local health department clinics may offer it at a reduced rate.
- Plan BŪ and other emergency contraceptive pills that contain only the hormone progestin reduce your risk of pregnancy by 89%. This doesn't mean that 11% of women will get pregnant using these pills. It just means that this type of emergency contraception prevents 89% of the pregnancies researchers would expect to happen when women have unprotected sex. Usually, if 100 women have unprotected sex one time during the 2nd or 3rd week of their monthly menstrual cycle, 8 of them will get pregnant. But if those same 100 women use Plan BŪ, only 1 will get pregnant. And if you take these progestin-only emergency contraceptive pills within the first 24 hours after unprotected sex, they reduce your risk of pregnancy by up to 95%. In other words, emergency contraception works better the sooner you take it.
- EC can give you a second chance to prevent pregnancy after sex. You can use EC as many times in a month as you need it, but remember, it is not as effective as birth control that's used before or during sex, like the pill or condoms. It also causes more side effects than regular birth control methods. That's why you shouldn't use emergency contraception as your only protection against pregnancy. The good news is that you can choose from dozens of kinds of birth control today. Click here to find out more.
This page created by Advocates for Youth.
For more info on the EC postcard campaign, visit their website.