Emergency Contraception Pills ("Morning After Pills")
There are four different types of emergency contraceptive pills ("morning after pills") available around the world. Check this page to see which pills are available where you live.
In the United States, regulations on the sale of EC have changed frequently, so it can be quite confusing. Below is some information about how the different brands of EC are sold. If you want to use ella, call the pharmacy first to be sure that it is in stock.
Progestin-only EC (like Plan B One-Step and its generic forms Take Action, Next Choice One Dose and My Way) are approved for unrestricted sale on store shelves. Even though the package directions for the generics say that it’s intended for use by women ages 17 and older, anyone can buy it without needing to show ID. Plan B One-Step usually costs about $40-$50, and the generics cost about $35-$45.
- If you want to use insurance to purchase EC, go to the pharmacy counter and ask for help.
- You can order a generic form of Plan B One-Step at www.afterpill.com for $20 + $5 shipping. This site does not offer expedited shipping, so it's not meant for emergency use, but you can stock up and keep it on hand for future use.
- ella is sold by prescription only, regardless of age. You can also order ella through an online prescription service for $59, including shipping.
The first type of emergency contraceptive pill contains a hormone called progestin (learn more about these emergency contraceptive pills). Progestin-only pills can reduce your risk of getting pregnant by 88% (what does that mean?). You are also less likely to have side effects if you use these pills for emergency contraception, as compared with combined pills (see below).
The second type of emergency contraceptive pill contains ulipristal acetate, and is available by prescription only in the United States (sold as ella) and Europe (sold as ellaOne). It has been found to be highly effective and well-tolerated. It can be taken up to 5 days after unprotected sex, and is believed to be more effective than levonorgestrel ECPs.
The third type of emergency contraceptive pill uses both the hormones progestin and estrogen (learn more about these "combined" emergency contraceptive pills). Many brands of the combined daily birth control pill can be used for emergency contraception in the United States (find out which ones here). These pills cut your chances of getting pregnant by 75% (What does that mean?), and you are more likely to experience side effects like nausea and vomiting.
The fourth type of emergency contraceptive pill contains small doses of mifepristone. This pill is also highly effective, with few side-effects. This type of emergency contraceptive pill is currently available only in China, Vietnam, Armenia and Russia.
The Copper-T IUD is also a highly effective method of emergency contraception, and can be used as ongoing contraception for at least 10 years.
- Some people call emergency contraceptive pills "morning after pills," but you don't have to wait until the morning after. You can take the pills right away or use them up to five days after sex if you did not use birth control, you think your birth control failed, or you were made to have sex against your will. (Wondering if you really could get pregnant? Find out here.) Also, the sooner you take emergency contraceptive pills, the better they work.
- You can use pills labeled for emergency contraception or certain brands of daily birth control pills to prevent pregnancy after sex. (Find out which ones here).
For a more detailed academic review of the medical and social science literature about emergency contraception, click here .