Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About...
Types of Emergency Contraception
What brands of emergency contraception are available in the United States?
In the U.S., progestin-only EC is available on the shelf without age restrictions to women and men. Look for Plan B One-Step, Take Action, Next Choice One-Dose, My Way or other generics in the family planning aisle.
There are several brands of emergency contraceptive pills that may be available in the United States, including ella, Plan B One-Step, Take Action, Next Choice One Dose and My Way. 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, Take Action, Next Choice One Dose and My Way, contain the hormone levonorgestrel. Progestin-only pills are available on the shelf in the family planning aisle, with no age restrictions. You should not be asked for ID to buy Plan B One-Step, Take Action, or other generic versions. Both men and women can purchase it. 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), 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 One Dose. 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.
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.