Emergency Contraception

Emergency contraception refers to a back-up method of birth control that can be used in the following situations:

  • You didn't use any birth control
  • Your condom came off or broke
  • Your diaphragm/cervical cap moved out of proper position during vaginal intercourse
  • You missed one or more birth control pills
  • You were late starting your pill pack
  • You were late getting your Depo-Provera shot
  • You were forced to have sex
  • You didn’t have intercourse, but semen came near the vagina
  • You miscalculated the non-fertile days and didn’t use contraception

There are two main methods of emergency contraception:

Emergency Contraceptive Pills (ECP)

WHAT IS IT?

Emergency Contraceptive Pills (ECP) are most commonly referred to as the “morning-after pill”.

An example is Plan B®, which only has progestin (levonorgestrel). A person can take one pill and then another 12 hours later or can take both pills together.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

ECP may work by one of several mechanisms:

• It can keep the egg from leaving the ovary
• It can keep the sperm from meeting the egg
• It can keep the fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus

It does not cause disruption to the embryo once fertilization has occurred. In other words, ECP prevents pregnancy, but does not cause a miscarriage or abortion.

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF USING ECP?

ADVANTAGES:

  • only method of contraception used to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex
  • available without a prescription from pharmacies

DISADVANTAGES:

  • does not work if already pregnant
  • has to be used within a limited time frame
  • cannot be used as a regular method of birth control
  • may cause nausea and/or vomiting
  • may cause changes in the next menstrual period
  • does not offer protection against STIs

Emergency IUD

WHAT IS IT?

The emergency IUD is the same IUD that is used as a birth control method. The IUD can be used in an emergency to prevent pregnancy up to 5 days after unprotected intercourse occurred.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

The emergency IUD prevents a potential fertilized egg from implanting in the lining of the uterus.

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF USING AN EMERGENCY IUD?

ADVANTAGES:

  • it is more effective than emergency contraceptive pills (ECP)
  • the IUD can be kept in place and used as regular method of birth control

DISADVANTAGES:

  • may cause cramping and some spotting during and/or after insertion
  • requires an appointment with a doctor to have it inserted