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More than half of all pregnancies in the United States are not planned. We forget to take our pills. Condoms break. We have sex when we didn't expect to—or want to. If you have sex without using birth control, and you don't want to be pregnant, you may want to use emergency contraception to keep from becoming pregnant.

What emergency contraception pills can I take?

  1. Top of page
  2. What is emergency contraception?
  3. What emergency contraception pills can I take?
  4. What if I do not want to take a pill?
  5. How does emergency contraception work?
  6. Is emergency contraception safe?
  7. Are there any side effects of emergency contraception pills?
  8. I do not have sex very often. Can I use emergency contraception pills instead of regular birth control?
  9. How do I get emergency contraception pills if I am 17 years old or older?
  10. How do I get emergency contraception pills if I am under age 17?
  11. If I do get pregnant, will emergency contraception pills hurt the baby?
  12. How do I use Plan B, Next Choice, or ella for emergency contraception?
  13. How do I use birth control pills for emergency contraception?
  14. What do I do after taking ECPs?
  15. How do I use an intrauterine device for emergency contraception?
  16. FOR MORE INFORMATION

The most common ECP contains a hormone (levonorgestrel) that also is found in birth control pills. The brand names for this ECP are Plan B and Next Choice. You can buy this ECP in a drugstore if you are 17 years or older, but you need a prescription if you are younger than 17 years. You will take 1 or 2 pills, depending on what brand you get. It is best if you take this ECP within 3 days of unprotected sex. You can take this ECP up to 5 days after having unprotected sex, and it will still prevent most pregnancies. It works better the sooner you take it.

A newer ECP is available only with a prescription for women of all ages. The brand name is ella. This medicine uses a different drug but still has the same effect on your body. You can take it up to 5 days after unprotected sex, and it prevents pregnancy very well. This ECP may work better than the other ECPs if you are overweight.

You also can use regular birth control pills as ECPs as long as they contain both of the hormones estrogen and progestin. If you use regular birth control bills as ECPs, you will have to take several pills at one time. It is best if you use regular birth control as ECPs within 3 days of unprotected sex. You can take them up to 5 days after having unprotected sex, but they work better the sooner you take them.

Are there any side effects of emergency contraception pills?

  1. Top of page
  2. What is emergency contraception?
  3. What emergency contraception pills can I take?
  4. What if I do not want to take a pill?
  5. How does emergency contraception work?
  6. Is emergency contraception safe?
  7. Are there any side effects of emergency contraception pills?
  8. I do not have sex very often. Can I use emergency contraception pills instead of regular birth control?
  9. How do I get emergency contraception pills if I am 17 years old or older?
  10. How do I get emergency contraception pills if I am under age 17?
  11. If I do get pregnant, will emergency contraception pills hurt the baby?
  12. How do I use Plan B, Next Choice, or ella for emergency contraception?
  13. How do I use birth control pills for emergency contraception?
  14. What do I do after taking ECPs?
  15. How do I use an intrauterine device for emergency contraception?
  16. FOR MORE INFORMATION

The most common side effect of ECPs is nausea that lasts a day or so and, rarely, vomiting. Your health care provider can give you a prescription for medicine to prevent nausea. If you do not have a prescription, you can use over-the-counter motion sickness or nausea medicine. You may get a headache, too. Your period may be different during the cycle you take ECPs. It could be a little heavy and longer or come a little early or later than normal. The side effects usually are mild and go away quickly. You will probably have the least side effects if you take ella instead of the other ECP options. You are more likely to have side effects like nausea and vomiting with these ECPs than the other ECP options.

How do I use Plan B, Next Choice, or ella for emergency contraception?

  1. Top of page
  2. What is emergency contraception?
  3. What emergency contraception pills can I take?
  4. What if I do not want to take a pill?
  5. How does emergency contraception work?
  6. Is emergency contraception safe?
  7. Are there any side effects of emergency contraception pills?
  8. I do not have sex very often. Can I use emergency contraception pills instead of regular birth control?
  9. How do I get emergency contraception pills if I am 17 years old or older?
  10. How do I get emergency contraception pills if I am under age 17?
  11. If I do get pregnant, will emergency contraception pills hurt the baby?
  12. How do I use Plan B, Next Choice, or ella for emergency contraception?
  13. How do I use birth control pills for emergency contraception?
  14. What do I do after taking ECPs?
  15. How do I use an intrauterine device for emergency contraception?
  16. FOR MORE INFORMATION

Step 1: Take your first pill as soon as you can after you have sex. It works better that way. You can take the first dose up to 5 days after you have sex, but the sooner you take the pill, the more likely you are to prevent pregnancy.

Step 2: If you have 2 pills, you can either take both pills at the same time or take your second dose 12 hours after the first dose. If you are worried that you might not be able to take 2 pills 12 hours apart or that you might forget to take the second dose, go ahead and take both pills together.

Step 3: If your period does not come in 3 weeks, get a pregnancy test.

How do I use birth control pills for emergency contraception?

  1. Top of page
  2. What is emergency contraception?
  3. What emergency contraception pills can I take?
  4. What if I do not want to take a pill?
  5. How does emergency contraception work?
  6. Is emergency contraception safe?
  7. Are there any side effects of emergency contraception pills?
  8. I do not have sex very often. Can I use emergency contraception pills instead of regular birth control?
  9. How do I get emergency contraception pills if I am 17 years old or older?
  10. How do I get emergency contraception pills if I am under age 17?
  11. If I do get pregnant, will emergency contraception pills hurt the baby?
  12. How do I use Plan B, Next Choice, or ella for emergency contraception?
  13. How do I use birth control pills for emergency contraception?
  14. What do I do after taking ECPs?
  15. How do I use an intrauterine device for emergency contraception?
  16. FOR MORE INFORMATION

If you are going to use birth control pills for emergency contraception you have to take two doses 12 hours apart. The number and color pill you need to take is different, depending on the type of birth control pills you are using. See http://ec.princeton.edu/questions/dose.html for a list of the number of pills you need to take for the type of birth control pills you have. You may want to take an over-the-counter motion sickness or nausea medicine with the birth control pills.

Step 1: You must take the right amount of pills for each dose. You must also take the right color pills.

Step 2: Take the same number of the same color pills 12 hours after the first dose.

Step 3: If your period does not come in 3 weeks, get a pregnancy test.