Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About...
How to Get Emergency Contraception
Do I need a prescription to get emergency contraceptive pills?
The situation with emergency contraception in the United States is a bit confusing: there are different types of emergency contraceptive pills available, with different regulations on how to buy them. Before you go, call the pharmacy first to make sure that they have EC in stock. If you want to buy progestin-only EC over the counter, be prepared to show identification to prove your age. If you have a prescription for 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 next-day shipping.
If you are too young to buy emergency contraception over-the-counter, you can still get a prescription from a licensed health care provider in order to get emergency contraceptive pills (also known as "morning after pills"). While some providers – like Planned Parenthood clinics – may have emergency contraception on hand and can give you the pills directly, you will often also need to visit a pharmacy to fill the prescription just like you do with other medications.
If you want to use ella (click here for a description of when you might want to use ella instead of progestin-only EC, such as Plan B One-Step, Next Choice One Dose, Next Choice or Levonorgestrel Tablets), you will need a prescription, no matter how old you are. If you have a prescription for ella, be sure to call the pharmacy first to check that they have it in stock. You can also use this online prescription service to purchase ella.
Laws in some states also allow pharmacists to provide emergency contraceptive pills directly to women of all ages without requiring a doctor's prescription (although not every pharmacist is doing it). These agreements may not apply to ella, so call first. For more information about getting emergency contraceptive pills if you are under the age limit, click here.
To find the nearest licensed health care providers, including pharmacists, providing emergency contraception in the US, try searching our database.
For a more detailed academic review of the medical and social science literature about improving women’s access to emergency contraception, click here .