Emergency contraception is a birth control method to prevent pregnancy in women:
Emergency contraception most likely works by preventing or delaying the release of an egg from a woman's ovaries. This method prevents pregnancy in the same way as regular birth control pills.
TYPES OF EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTION
Two emergency contraceptive pills may be bought without a prescription:
Ulipristal acetate (ella) is a new type of emergency contraception pill that requires a prescription from a health care provider.
Two other methods that may be used to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex are:
MORE ABOUT EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTIVE PILLS
Women ages 17 and older can buy Plan B One-Step and Next Choice at a pharmacy without a prescription or visit to the doctor. Younger girls need to contact a health care provider to get a prescription for these pills.
Emergency contraception works best when you use it within 24 hours of having sex. However, it may still prevent pregnancy for up to 5 days after you first had sex.
Emergency contraception may cause side effects. Most are mild. They may include:
After you use emergency contraception, your next menstrual cycle may start earlier or later than usual. Your menstrual flow may be lighter or heavier than usual.
Sometime, emergency contraception does not work. However, research suggests that emergency contraceptives have no long-term effects on the pregnancy or developing baby.
OTHER IMPORTANT FACTS
You should not use emergency contraception if:
You may be able to use emergency contraception even if you cannot regularly take birth control pills. Talk to your health care provider about your options.
Emergency contraception should not be used as a routine birth control method. It is less effective at preventing pregnancies than most types of birth control.
Morning-after pill; Postcoital contraception; Birth control - emergency; Plan B
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Updated by: Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Bellevue, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.
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