Emergency contraception (specifically Plan B One-Step) is now available without prescription if you are age 17 years or older, or by prescription otherwise. See How can I get EC?
On this page:
- What is emergency contraception (EC)?
- You might consider taking EC if...
- Comparison of EC methods available at UHS
- How effective is EC?
- You should not take EC if...
- How to take EC
- Resources on EC
- Related resources from UHS
What is emergency contraception (EC)? EC, also called the "morning after pill," helps prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex or the failure of a regular method of birth control. It is most effective the sooner it is taken after unprotected sex (most effective within the first 12-24 hours), but research has shown it may still be effective up to 120 hours (5 days) after unprotected sex. EC:
- Is not an abortion pill (RU-486)
- Is not effective if you are already pregnant
- Does not offer protection from HIV or other sexually transmitted infections
- Is intended for emergencies, so plan to use a reliable, routine method of contraception
- You didn't use a condom or other reliable method of birth control
- The condom broke or slipped off
- You had sex and missed two or more birth control pills this cycle
- You were sexually assaulted and currently not using a reliable method of contraception (see the UM Sexual Assault Survivor website for resources and information)
|Plan B One-Step™||Next Choice®||ella®|
|Females who could use this product||If you are age 17 or older||If you are age 16 or younger||If more than 72 hours (3 days) since unprotected sex, or if you are age 16 or younger|
|How available at pharmacies||Available without prescription if you are age 17 or older (read more)||Available by prescription only; you must visit a health care provider to get a prescription (read more)|
|How it works||High levels of hormone progestin stop or delay ovulation; may also interfere with fertilization of egg, transport of embryo or implantation||Medication (ulipristal) delays ovulation; may also prevent implantation|
|Number of doses required||1 dose||2 doses||1 dose|
|When to take it after unprotected sex or contraceptive failure||Take as soon as possible within 3 days (72 hours)||Take first dose as soon as possible within 3 days (72 hours). Take second dose 12 hours later. (Alternatively, both doses may be taken at the time of the first dose.)||Take as soon as possible within five days (120 hours).|
|Side effects||Rare; nausea, abdominal pain, fatigue, headache, menstrual changes|
How can I get EC? You need to go to a pharmacy to get EC, and most pharmacies, including the UHS Pharmacy, carry EC.
Without prescription: If you are 17 or older, you can buy Plan B® One-Step over-the-counter (without prescription). It can be purchased by both males and females. Proof of age is required (you need to show a government-issued ID, e.g. passport, driver's license; UM ID is not acceptable). There is no limit to the quantity that can be purchased at one time.
By prescription: Women need a prescription for Next choice and ella. (They are not available to men.) Schedule an Appointment to get a prescription. You can also get EC in advance (you don't have to wait for an emergency to get it).
Cost: At UHS, cost for over-the-counter EC is $40 (subject to change). If a clinic visit is needed, clinic visits are free for currently enrolled UM students. Others pay fee-for-service or use billable insurance.
Possible reasons for EC failure are:
- Ovulation has occurred
- Too much time elapsed between unprotected sex and use of EC
- You are already pregnant
- You are pregnant, because it won't work and you will remain pregnant (however there are no known birth defects caused by EC if it is accidentally taken during pregnancy)
- You are allergic to levonorgestrel (hormone), ulipristal (medication) or any other EC ingredients
- You are breastfeeding (specifically not advised with ella)
The sooner EC is taken, the more effective it is, so take EC as soon as possible. Follow package directions. Eating a snack or drinking a glass of milk can help reduce nausea.
You should have a menstrual period within three weeks after taking EC. If you do not have your period within three weeks, you should have a pregnancy test. UHS provides Pregnancy Tests.
Begin using a reliable, routine method of contraception as soon as possible. Also, remember to protect yourself from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections by using a condom each time you have sex.
- If you have questions about EC, you can call 734-764-8320
- Emergency Contraception website from the Office of Population Research at Princeton University and the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals
- Planned Parenthood Emergency Contraception
- Plan B One-Step over-the-counter
- Next Choice by prescription
- ella by prescription