Emergency Contraception - The Morning After Pill
If you have unprotected sex, there is immediate action you can take to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.
You can use emergency contraception if you had unprotected sex, or the condom broke, or you forgot to take your birth control pill.
Here are your choices:
- Available over the counter so no prescription needed
- It is most effective if used within 72 hours (3 days) of unprotected intercourse, although the sooner the better. It can be used up to 5 days after unprotected intercourse
- You take a single tablet containing the artificial progesterone levonorgestrel.
- The FDA recently stated there is no conclusive evidence that overweight or obese women have a higher failure rate, so there are no restrictions based on weight
- Works by delaying ovulation; can reduce the chance of pregnancy by up to 88% if used within 72 hrs, 95% within 24 hrs.
- You can restart your birth control pills the next day if you took emergency contraception because you missed a pill
- Requires a prescription
- A single tablet containing the anti-progesterone ulipristal acetate is taken within 5 days of unprotected intercourse (but the sooner the better)
- May be more effective than levonorgestrel, especially close to ovulation, and if taken more than 3 days after sex without a condom
- Some experts think it is more effective for overweight or obese women
- You need to wait 5-7 days before restarting a birth control pill (use condoms or abstain until then)
- Works by delaying ovulation, and possibly preventing implantation of a fertilized egg; can reduce chance of pregnancy by up to 88%
- Most birth control pills containing an estrogen can be taken in doses that work as an emergency contraceptive. Consult http://ec.princeton.edu/emergency-contraception.html to access a table about how to use your pill this way.
- Side effects like nausea or vomiting are more common
- The effectiveness is slightly less than the above choices
- Needs to be inserted within 5 days of unprotected intercourse
- Then provides highly effective, long lasting contraception
- The logistics of arranging an IUD insertion in so short a time frame can be difficult
- Can reduce the chance of pregnancy by 95-99%
- Providers at the IUHC can insert an IUD, call for an appointment
- Your next period may come at a different time, often earlier than expected. If your period is more than 1 week late, you should run a pregnancy test
- If you have severe abdominal pain, you may have a tubal pregnancy- seek medical care urgently
- Use an effective form of birth control, such as condoms, until your next period. Emergency contraception is NOT designed to be used multiple times in the same menstrual cycle
- Emergency Contraception isn’t as effective at preventing pregnancy as contraceptive options (pills, ring, patch, etc.) that you use regularly
- Consult with your health care provider about the many options for effective contraception you can choose from or read more about other options on our website