Emergency Contraception

Emergency Contraception is a form of contraception that is used to prevent pregnancy after sex by stopping or delaying the release of an egg from the ovaries. It is recommended to take emergency contraception as soon as possible after unprotected sex. We get it, accidents happen. No birth control method is 100% effective, although many come close. Condoms can break, a diaphragm can slip out of place, or a birth control dosage can be inadvertently skipped. Perhaps you had unprotected vaginal sex despite knowing the risks and weren’t able to pull out in time. In these situations, EC is what you should look for.

If you suspect that any of these things may have happened, be honest with your partner. It may be tempting to keep your suspicions to yourself but sharing your concerns with your partner is the right thing to do. Together, you can prevent becoming pregnant.

Emergency contraception like Plan B – known to some as “the Morning After Pill” is designed for close-calls. People over 17 can get emergency contraception over-the-counter at drugstores or at our reproductive health centers. Emergency contraception pills can be found at local pharmacies, typically on the shelves in the sexual health aisles. If you have trouble finding it, ask a pharmacist for help. Since it is sold on shelves, there is no age requirement to purchase.

Like hormonal contraception, emergency contraception works by releasing a specific amount of hormones into the bloodstream to prevent a woman from ovulating and by thickening the cervical mucus to reduce the chances of sperm entering the uterus. Without ovulation and without sperm entering the uterus, a woman cannot get pregnant.

Unlike hormonal contraception, emergency contraception is designed to be taken up to 72 hours after sex. For the best chance for emergency contraception to work, it should be taken as soon as possible after sex. It should not be used as a regular form of birth control.

Emergency contraception works by delaying or stopping the ovaries from releasing an egg. If you are ovulating, an EC pill will not be effective. While there is not a weight limit, many emergency contraceptive pills will become less effective if you are over a certain weight. Ask a pharmacist or provider which brand would work best for you.

Remember, close-calls are not for your partner to deal with alone. Even if you feel embarrassed, it is best to be honest with your partner about any suspicions you may have. This can prevent an unwanted pregnancy.