Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About...
How to Get Emergency Contraception
If I am a teenager (under 17 years old), can I get emergency contraception in the United States without my parents' knowledge or consent?
YES. Now, one brand of EC (Plan B One-Step) is available to anyone of any age, directly only the shelf, with no need to show ID. 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.
Plan B One-Step is sold on the shelf (check the family planning aisle) with no restrictions. That means anyone can buy it without having to show ID. Plan B One-Step generally costs about $40-50.
- Soon, the generic one-pill products (Next Choice One Dose and My Way) will be available on the shelf next to Plan B One-Step, but you need to be 17 to buy them. Be prepared to show ID to buy these products. These generics generally cost about $35-45.
- The generic two-pill products Levonorgestrel Tablets are still available only at the pharmacy counter. Women and men aged 17 or older can buy them without a prescription. If you are 16 or younger, you need a prescription.
- ella is sold by prescription only, regardless of age. You can also order ella through an online
prescription service for $42, including shipping.
If you are getting EC from a clinic, be sure to ask if the medical care you receive will be confidential and, if not, you may want to contact someone else to get emergency contraception (click here to find an emergency contraception provider near you).
Although studies show that EC can work up to 5 days after sex, what matters for each individual woman is where you are in your menstrual cycle. ella works closer to the time of ovulation than progestin-only EC (although most likely neither will work if you have already ovulated). If you think you might be close to ovulation, or don't know where you are in your cycle, ella may be the best choice. However, the most important thing is that you take action and get EC as soon as possible.
If you already have emergency contraceptive pills in your medicine cabinet, you can start using them right away – without having to go to the pharmacy to buy the pills. For this reason, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists – the leading professional association of doctors who specialize in women’s health – recommends getting emergency contraceptive pills before they are needed.