Emergency contraception (EC) is a backup method of birth control for preventing pregnancy after unprotected sex. Even though it’s commonly called the “morning-after pill,” there are three types of EC — two kinds of pills and one type of intrauterine device (IUD) – that can actually be used within 5 days (120 hours) of unprotected intercourse.
In the United States any woman can get Plan B One-Step™ at pharmacies without a prescription. However the sooner you take it, the more likely it will work. You will receive instructions on how to take it as it.
You can also get Ella™ (Ulipristal acetate) at a pharmacy, but you will need a prescription and your health care provider may need you to get a pregnancy test first. You may need to check many different pharmacies, because EC is not available in all pharmacies.
For a copper IUD, you will need to be seen at a clinic, such as your primary care or GYN’s office or Planned Parenthood, to have the IUD placed in your uterus with 5 days of unprotected sex. You can then keep the IUD in place for up to ten years or you can have it removed.
Use the EC website to find a health care provider or pharmacy if you have any questions about emergency contraception.
Be ready to answer the following questions:
- When was the first day of your last menstrual period?
- When was the exact date and time of unprotected sex?
- What types of birth control have you used in the past?
For more information visit our guide on EC: https://youngwomenshealth.org/2013/05/23/emergency-contraception/