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).
Research has shown that the pills in a and b above are equally effective when taken on the first-fourth days after unprotected sex and are ineffective thereafter. ella is equally effective when on the first-fifth days.
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 at http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ByAudience/ForWomen/FreePublications/ucm313215.htm
- Office on Women’s Health, “Emergency contraception (emergency birth control) fact sheet,” Accessed 2/19/14 at women’s health.gov
- The Emergency Contraception Website, accessed 3/12/14 at http://ec.princeton.edu/
- 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.