Emergency Contraception


What is it?

Emergency contraception is a safe way to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex or after having an accident while having protected sex (for example, if a condom breaks). This method can be purchased over the counter at pharmacies. As the name indicates, it is a birth control method only recommended for emergencies – is not a recurrent method to rely on.


Does it prevent STIs?

No. While emergency contraception is a way to prevent pregnancy, it doesn’t prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs) because it is a method used after the sex act. Using condoms or internal condoms is recommended to prevent STIs.


What types of emergency contraception methods exist?

Option 1: the emergency contraception pill (AKA the morning-after pill) 
Taking an emergency contraception pill that contains hormones in it will effectively prevent a pregnancy from happening. Common brands are Plan B and Ella.

Option 2:  Copper IUD
Getting a copper IUD within 120 hours (five days) after having unprotected sex will effectively prevent a pregnancy from happening. These IUD works as well on day one as on day five.

How do you use the emergency contraception pill? 

The steps to use the emergency contraception pill will depend on the pill’s brand so carefully read the instructions and listen to your doctor.

While emergency contraception pills prevent pregnancy from happening, it is meant to be used in “accidental” contexts - like when someone forgets to take a birth control pill or a condom breaks. If someone wants to prevent pregnancy regularly they should use a different type of birth control. 


Is it right for you?

Maybe. If someone has had an experience when sperm could reach an egg and potentially lead to a pregnancy, and they don’t want to have a pregnancy, they should consider using emergency contraception. 

Talking with a health provider is a great place to start. It can also be helpful to talk with friends or trusted adults in your life. Everyone is different, what works best for one person might not be what works best for you.

Where do you get it?


Learn more about emergency contraception, in English and Spanish, by calling the Emergency Contraception Hotline at 1-888-NOT2LATE (668-2528).