Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About...
Types of Emergency Contraception
Can I use any birth control pills for emergency contraception?
To have the best chance of preventing pregnancy in the few days after sex, you should use one of the oral contraceptives listed on this website as emergency contraception. Here you will find all the birth control pill brands available in the United States and worldwide that contain the hormones that have been most widely studied and found safe and effective as emergency contraceptive pills (“morning after pills” or “day after pills”).
Two types of birth control pills have been well researched in clinical trials for their use as emergency contraception. The first contains levonorgestrel, a form of the female hormone progesterone; they are often called “progestin-only” or “mini” pills. The second contains levonorgestrel and ethinyl estradiol, a form of the female hormone estrogen; they are often referred to as “combined” pills.
Can I use Ortho Tri-Cyclen for EC?
There are a number of other oral contraceptives on the market which contain formulations of female hormones that have not been studied for use in preventing pregnancy after sex. These include Ortho Tri-Cyclen, one of the most commonly prescribed combined birth control pills in the United States. If you have a prescription for Ortho Tri-Cyclen or any other oral contraceptive not listed in our database of pills, you should contact a health care provider if you think you might need emergency contraception.
One clinical trial has found that a combined pill containing the same type of estrogen as Ortho Tri-Cyclen, ethinyl estradiol, but a different progestin, norethindrone (or norethisterone), could be used as emergency contraception. However, because this combined pill does not appear to be as effective as combined emergency contraceptive pills with the estrogen ethinyl estradiol and the progestin levonorgestrel, we do not recommend that you use these pills for emergency contraception unless they are the only pills available. (Because of the limited research and lower effectiveness, you will not find any pills containing this formulation listed in our database of emergency contraceptive pills ("morning after pills" or "day after pills").
For a thorough and up-to-date academic review of the research about pills used for emergency contraception, click here.