Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About...
Types of Emergency Contraception
What brands of emergency contraception are available in the United States?
There are currently five brands of emergency contraceptive pills that may be available in the United States: ella, Plan B One-Step, Next Choice One Dose, Next Choice and Levonorgestrel Tablets. You can also use many kinds of daily birth control pills to prevent pregnancy after sex.
ella contains ulipristal acetate, and is sold by prescription only. Progestin-only pills, such as Plan B One-Step, Next Choice One Dose, Next Choice and Levonorgestrel Tablets, contain the hormone levonorgestrel, and are available over the counter for women and men aged 17 or older. Your other options for emergency contraception include taking a different dose of your daily birth control pills (most of which contain both progestin and estrogen, so they are called “combined” pills) or having a health care provider insert an IUD within five days after your birth control failed, you had sex without using contraception, or you were made to have sex against your will.
ella is more effective than progestin-only pills (like Plan B One-Step or Next Choice), particularly if you are close to ovulation. In clinical studies, the effectiveness of ella did not decline over a 5-day period after unprotected sex, while progestin-only EC may be ineffective on the fifth day. However, because each individual woman may not know exactly how close she is to ovulating, it is important to take EC as soon as possible after unprotected sex. Both ella and progestin-only pills are more effective and have fewer side effects than combined emergency contraceptive pills.
Don't take more than one kind of EC. The active ingredient in ella may counteract the effect of levonorgestrel, the active ingredient in Plan B One-Step and Next Choice. All of the brands listed here may be effective when used within 120 hours after unprotected sex, but should be taken as soon as possible.
There are different regulations on how to purchase the different emergency contraceptive pills available in the United States, so it can be a bit confusing. If you want to use ella, call the pharmacy first to be sure that it is in stock.
- ella is sold by prescription only, regardless of age. You can also order ella through an online prescription service for $40, including shipping.
In some states, women of all ages can get progestin-only emergency contraceptive pills directly from a pharmacist, without having to get a prescription first. These agreements may not apply to ella, so call first to find out. Use our database to find health care providers, including pharmacists, near you who offer emergency contraception.