Effectiveness in Preventing Pregnancy
Emergency Contraceptive Pills:
- Plan B One-Step, Next Choice One Dose, My Way and Levonorgestrel Tablets: 7 out of 8 women who would have gotten pregnant will not become pregnant after taking these pills.
- ella: 6 or 7 out of every 100 women who would have gotten pregnant will not become pregnant after taking ella.
- The copper T IUD is the most effect emergency contraceptive method. Out of one thousand (1000) women who use this method, only one will get pregnant.
Clinic Visit Required
- Many emergency contraceptive pills are available on drugstore shelves (over the counter). A clinic visit is required to obtain a prescription for ella or if seeking a Copper T IUD as emergency contraception
What is emergency contraception?
Emergency contraception is birth control that you use after you have had unprotected sex—if you didn’t use birth control or your regular birth control failed. Depending on the type of emergency contraception, you can use emergency contraception within 3 days or within 5 days after unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy.
There are two types of emergency contraception (EC):
- Emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs)
- Plan B One-Step, Next Choice One Dose, and My Way consist of one pill that the instructions state must be taken with 3 days (72 hours).
- Levonorgestrel Tablets consist of two pills. Although the instructions state that the first one must be taken within 3 days (72 hours) and another must be taken 12 hours later, both pills can be taken at the same time within four days (96 hours) after unprotected sex.
- ella consists of one pill that must be taken within 5 days (120 hours).
- Emergency insertion of a copper T intrauterine device (IUD) within 5 days (120 hours)
How do I get emergency contraception?
ECPs are available at some pharmacies. Women and men of all ages can get emergency contraceptive pills besides ella without a prescription. You may want to check that your local pharmacy carries ECPs before making a trip there.
Women of all ages need a prescription for ella. Contact your health care provider to get a prescription.
Many family planning clinics dispense emergency contraceptive pills and offer IUDs as a birth control option. Check the clinic locator on OPA’s home page for a clinic near you.
Drawbacks of emergency contraception
- Not as effective as some other types of birth control
- Require a clinic visit and a prescription in some cases
- Do not work if you are already pregnant
- May cause side effects like nausea (anti-nausea medication might help with this), vomiting, stomach pain and headaches
- Do not protect against sexually transmitted infections
U. S. Food and Drug Administration
- Birth Control: Medicines to Help You Accessed 2/19/14
Office on Women's Health
- Emergency contraception (emergency birth control) fact sheet Accessed 2/19/14
The Emergency Contraception Website
- http://ec.princeton.edu Accessed 3/12/14
Robert A. Hatcher, et.al., Contraceptive Technology, 20th revised edition, Ardent Media, Inc., 2011 http://ec.princeton.edu/
Cleland K, Zhu H, Goldstuck N, Cheng L, Trussell J. The efficacy of intrauterine devices for emergency contraception: a systematic review of 35 years of experience. Hum Reprod. 2012 Jul 27(7):1994-2000.