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What is Emergency Contraception, also known as Plan B? 

Emergency contraception1 is made up of a hormone called Levonorgestrel, which is commonly used in birth control pills. 

Emergency Contraception is often called “the morning after pill”, but it can be taken any time after unprotected sex. The sooner this pill is taken, the more effective it is. If Emergency Contraception is taken within 72 hours after unprotected sex, it can decrease the risk of pregnancy by 89%.  If taken in the first 24 hours, it is about 95% effective.  Therefore, the sooner you take it after unprotected sex, condom failure, or sex after missing a birth control pill, the better the chance of it working to prevent pregnancy. 

Emergency Contraception is not the same as RU-486.  If the blastocyst has already been implanted in the uterus, a woman is already pregnant, and Emergency Contraception will not work. 

Emergency Contraception is not the same as RU-486, also known as the abortion pill.

Emergency Contraception works by preventing or delaying ovulation.  If a woman has already ovulated it may interfere with the fertilization of the egg while still in the tube, or by affecting the lining of the uterus so the blastocyst cannot implant in the uterine wall. 

Emergency Contraception is not as effective as regular birth control pills and is not meant to replace it.  It is only to be used as a back-up method and is not to be used as a woman’s main form of birth control. 

Emergency Contraception can be purchased over the counter, and no prescription is necessary.  Emergency Contraception is known by many different names – Econtra EZ, My Way, Next Choice One Dose, Plan B, One Step, Preventeza, and Take Action.  It is one dose of a single pill. 

Emergency Contraception does not prevent STIs or STDs. If you are at risk of getting an STI or STD, talk to a trusted healthcare professional or your OB-GYN.

Side Effects  

Some patients experience vomiting after taking Emergency Contraception. If you vomit within 2 hours after taking the pill, call a healthcare provider to see if you need to repeat the dose.  

Emergency Contraception may cause abnormal bleeding and your next period may be lighter or heavier than normal.  If you don’t have a period in the following 3 weeks, take a pregnancy test to make sure you are not pregnant.  

Emergency Contraception does NOT prevent sexually transmitted diseases. 

  1. Emergency Contraception. (2022). Retrieved 16 September 2022, from https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/emergency-contraception

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