Four Important Facts About Emergency Contraceptives


Emergency contraceptives are useful in a variety of situations, and thankfully are becoming more and more available to sexually active women.

Emergency contraception is useful in cases when:

  • Contraception wasn't used
  • Contraception was used but failed for whatever reason failed
  • When a woman is the victim of sexual assault and does not want to risk pregnancy

The following presents four facts about emergency contraception.

Emergency Contraceptives Come in Two Forms

Emergency contraceptives are available in two forms.

One form is that of a pill. This is commonly known as the Morning After Pill. It is sold in two forms: levonorgestrel pills (i.e. Plan B One Step), and Ulipristal acetate (sold as ella).

The World Health Organization recommends levonorgestrel for emergency contraceptive pill use. This is a progestogen-only method that ought to be taken as a single dose (1.5 mg) within five days (120 hours) of unprotected intercourse. A woman may also take levonorgestrel in two doses (0.75 mg each; 12 hours apart). These work either by delaying ovulation or by preventing the fertilization of an egg by sperm by affecting the cervical mucus or by affecting the ability of the sperm to attach to the egg. It is important to know that levonorgestrel emergency contraceptive pills are not effective once the process of implantation has begun. Furthermore, they will not cause an abortion.

The other form is the copper-bearing intra-uterine device (IUD). This emergency contraceptive method is good for those woman also seeking effective, ongoing contraception. These work by preventing fertilization by causing a chemical change that damages sperm and egg before they can meet. It is considered to be over 99 percent effective in preventing pregnancy. It is very safe and the possibility of infection, expulsion or perforation are very low, according to WHO.

The Most Effective Form of Emergency Contraceptive

According to the World Health Organization, the most effective form of emergency contraceptive is a copper-bearing intra-uterine device that is inserted within five days of unprotected intercourse.

Some Emergency Contraceptives Can Be Bought By Anyone

Regardless of how old you are, in the United States you can buy Plan B One Step over the counter without a prescription at a drugstore, pharmacy, Planned Parenthood clinic, and everywhere else they are available.

All other brands and forms of emergency contraceptive require some form of prescription for those ages 16 and over.

Some Oral Contraceptives Can Be Used as Emergency Contraceptives

There are some brands of oral contraception available in the United States that can be used to prevent pregnancy in the few days following sexual intercourse. For information about how to use a specific pill as an emergency contraceptive, please click on the following link, which will take you away from this website and to the Emergency Contraception Website, which features instructions on how to take those medications for emergency situations.

Click here for the Emergency Contraception Website.


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