Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About...
Types of Emergency Contraception
Which birth control pills can be used for emergency contraception 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 nearly two dozen brands of pills that can be used for emergency contraception in the United States today. Several products are specifically approved and marketed here as emergency contraceptive pills:
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.
EC should be taken as soon as possible after sex.
You can also use a different dose of a number of brands of regular birth control pills. While these are not sold specifically as emergency contraceptive pills, they have been proven safe and effective for preventing pregnancy in the few days after sex. These daily birth control pills contain two hormones, progestin and estrogen, and are taken in two doses. You take the first dose as soon as possible (up to 120 hours after you have sex without using birth control, your birth control failed, or you were made to have sex against your will. You take the second dose 12 hours later (although being an hour or two early or late probably won’t make a difference in how effective the pills are).
Emergency contraceptive pills have no long-term or serious side effects, and it is safe for almost every woman to use them.
Here are some other things to know about taking 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 Take Action .
- Don’t take extra pills. They probably won’t reduce your risk of pregnancy any more than the recommended dose for emergency contraception. But they will make it more likely you’ll feel sick to your stomach (one of the more common side effects).
- If you feel sick to your stomach, it should be only mild nausea that goes away in a day or so.
- If you throw up within an hour after taking the pills, call your health care provider. You may need to repeat a dose, and it might make sense to take some anti-nausea medication (Find out more about side effects here).
- If you have any other symptoms you are worried about,
contact your health care provider. Ask for an appointment right
away if you have:
- Severe pain in your leg (calf or thigh)
- Several abdominal pain
- Chest pain or cough or shortness of breath
- Severe headaches, dizziness, weakness, or numbness
- Blurred or loss of vision or trouble speaking
- Jaundice (if you see a yellowish tint in the whites of your eyes, your skin, or your mucus membranes)
- Your next period should start within the next month, although it might come a few days early or late (find out more here). If you don’t get your period by the time you expect it, you might consider getting a pregnancy test.
- Start using a regular birth control method you think you’ll be able to use every time you have sex because that will be more effective than relying only on emergency contraception. And, if there’s any chance you could be at risk of sexually transmitted infections, use a condom.
The table below lists all of the brands of oral contraception available in the U.S. which you can use to prevent pregnancy in the few days after sex. For information about how to use a specific pill as an emergency contraceptive, click on the brand name in the table.
Looking for options for emergency contraceptive pills in another country? Click here.
|Brand||Company||First Doseb||Second Doseb
(12 hours later)
|Ulipristal Acetate per Dose (mg)||Ethinyl Estradiol
per Dose (µg)
per Dose (mg)c
|Ulipristal acetate (Dedicated EC pills)|
|ella||Watson||1 white pill||Noneb||30||-||-|
|Progestin-only (Dedicated EC pills)|
|Plan B One-Step||Teva||1 white pill||None||-||-||1.5|
|Take Action||Teva||1 white pill||None||-||-||1.5|
|Next Choice One Dose||Actavis||1 peach pill||None||-||-||1.5|
|My Way||Gavis||1 white pill||None||-||-||1.5|
|Levonorgestrel Tablets||Perrigo||2 white pills||Noneb||-||-||1.5|
|Combined progestin and estrogen pills (Regular oral contraceptive pills)|
|Altavera||Sandoz||4 peach pills||4 peach pills||-||120||0.60|
|Amethia||Watson||4 white pills||4 white pills||-||120||0.60|
|Amethia Lo||Watson||5 white pills||5 white pills||-||100||0.50|
|Amethyst||Watson||6 white pills||6 white pills||-||120||0.54|
|Aviane||Teva||5 orange pills||5 orange pills||-||100||0.50|
|Camrese||Teva||4 light blue-green pills||4 light blue-green pills||-||120||0.60|
|CamreseLo||Teva||5 orange pills||5 orange pills||-||100||0.50|
|Cryselle||Teva||4 white pills||4 white pills||-||120||0.60|
|Enpresse||Teva||4 orange pills||4 orange pills||-||120||0.50|
|Introvale||Sandoz||4 peach pills||4 peach pills||-||120||0.60|
|Jolessa||Teva||4 pink pills||4 pink pills||-||120||0.60|
|Lessina||Teva||5 pink pills||5 pink pills||-||100||0.50|
|Levora||Watson||4 white pills||4 white pills||-||120||0.60|
|Lo/Ovral||Akrimax||4 white pills||4 white pills||-||120||0.60|
|LoSeasonique||Teva||5 orange pills||5 orange pills||-||100||0.50|
|Low-Ogestrel||Watson||4 white pills||4 white pills||-||120||0.60|
|Lutera||Watson||5 white pills||5 white pills||-||100||0.50|
|Lybrel||Wyeth||6 yellow pills||6 yellow pills||-||120||0.54|
|Nordette||Teva||4 light-orange pills||4 light-orange pills||-||120||0.60|
|Ogestrel||Watson||2 white pills||2 white pills||-||100||0.50|
|Portia||Teva||4 pink pills||4 pink pills||-||120||0.60|
|Quasense||Watson||4 white pills||4 white pills||-||120||0.60|
|Seasonale||Teva||4 pink pills||4 pink pills||-||120||0.60|
|Seasonique||Teva||4 light-blue-green pills||4 light-blue-green pills||-||120||0.60|
|Sronyx||Watson||5 white pills||5 while pills||-||100||0.50|
|Trivora||Watson||4 pink pills||4 pink pills||-||120||0.50|
a ella, Plan B One-Step, Next Choice One Dose, My Way and Take Action are dedicated products specifically marketed for emergency contraception. The regular oral contraceptives listed above have been declared safe and effective for use as ECPs by the United States Food and Drug Administration. Outside the United States, about 100 emergency contraceptive products are specifically packaged, labeled, and marketed. Levonorgestrel-only ECPs are available either over-the-counter or from a pharmacist without having to see a clinician in 60 countries. In the U.S., progestin-only EC, like Plan B One-Step, is available on the shelf with no restrictions. ella is available by prescription only.
b The label for Levonorgestrel Tablets says to take one pill within 72 hours after unprotected intercourse, and another pill 12 hours later. However, research has found that both pills can be taken at the same time. 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.
c The progestin in Cryselle, Lo/Ovral, Low-Ogestrel and Ogestrel is norgestrel, which contains two isomers, only one of which (levonorgestrel) is bioactive; the amount of norgestrel in each tablet is twice the amount of levonorgestrel.