Emergency Contraception (EC), also called the Morning-after Pill or Plan B, prevents pregnancy after sex. If your condom broke or you didn't use birth control, you can use EC right away or up to five days after sex. Some EC is now over-the-counter, meaning you do not need a prescription, even if you are under 18. The sooner you take EC, the better and more effective it will be. Plan B is up to 89% effective if taken within 3 days!
There are several kinds of EC, so here is a quick overview of the different types:
There are 2 types of EC pills.
- Levonorgestrel, or Plan B One-Step. Plan B is available over-the-counter at pretty much any pharmacy.
- Ulipristal acetate, or ella. To get ella, you will need a prescription.
The copper IUD called Paraguard can be inserted up to five days after unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy. You can leave Paraguard in for up to 12 years, too!
For some women, ella or Paraguard are better options for EC, especially for those who are overweight. You can find a clinic or talk to your doctor about which method would be the most effective for you.
Remember: EC makes it much less likely you will get pregnant. But EC is NOT a substitute for your regular birth control and also does NOT protect you from STD’s or HIV (only condoms can do that). EC should not be used as your only protection against pregnancy.
If you need to get EC, the California Family Health Council’s Research division has a toll-free California EC Hotline (800) 521-5211 that can help you find an EC clinic or pharmacy. There is tons more info at Planned Parenthood's website, too!