By Scott G. Chudnoff, MD, as instructed to Camille Noe Pagán

Lots of people suppose emergency contraception (EC) is an abortion tablet, however that’s not the way it works. In the event you’re already pregnant and you employ it, it received’t finish your being pregnant. EC solely reduces your odds of getting pregnant when you’ve had unprotected sex or your birth control failed you over the previous a number of days.

Most types of emergency contraception comprise hormones that cease your ovary from releasing an egg. (Some examples of hormonal ECs are Plan B, Plan B One-Step, Take Motion, and ella.) In the event you don’t launch an egg, then sperm can’t fertilize it. That forestalls being pregnant. However what many ladies don’t understand is that there’s a nonhormonal EC possibility out there. It’s the Paragard copper IUD (intrauterine machine). An IUD is a T-shaped machine that’s put into your uterus by way of your cervix. Sperm don’t like copper, so that they don’t get previous Paragard to succeed in and fertilize an egg.

The factor about EC is that the earlier you employ it, the higher it really works. That’s very true when you’re near ovulation in your menstrual cycle. Most girls aren’t precisely positive after they ovulate, which is another excuse why it’s greatest to take emergency contraception as quickly as attainable after you’ve had unprotected intercourse. In the event you do know you’ve simply ovulated or are about to, then ella and Paragard are simpler than different types of EC. Ella and Paragard are additionally simpler if it’s been greater than 3 days because you’ve had unprotected intercourse. However they actually work solely inside a couple of 5-day span. If it’s been longer than 5 days, they’re a lot much less more likely to work.

Ella requires a prescription, and also you’ll want a physician to insert Paragard. However most EC is out there over-the-counter. That doesn’t imply you’ll discover it sitting on the shelf on the pharmacy or grocery retailer, although. In lots of instances, you must ask a pharmacist for it.


It’s at all times a good suggestion to talk along with your physician earlier than taking a brand new medication, together with emergency contraception. They may have particular recommendation that may allow you to. For instance, when you’re overweight or are tall with a big body, ella is extra more likely to work than Plan B. However while you name your physician’s workplace, be sure to inform them you’re calling about EC, so that they put you in contact along with your physician immediately.

That stated, when you’re on trip or it’s a vacation or weekend and your physician isn’t out there, don’t wait to take EC. The longer you wait, the upper your odds of getting pregnant. Plus, analysis reveals that EC is secure for girls of all ages. The one actual cause to not use it might be when you’re already pregnant or when you’ve had a destructive response to EC previously.

The most typical negative effects to hormonal EC are nausea and vomiting, whereas an IUD could cause cramping and bleeding. You may really feel slightly uncomfortable for a day or two after taking it. That’s regular. So is irregular menstrual bleeding afterward. Your subsequent interval could be heavier or lighter than it usually is. It could be later than regular, too, which could make you suppose you’re pregnant. In the event you’re fearful, think about taking a pregnancy test. And belief your intestine: If one thing appears improper, akin to actually heavy bleeding, name your physician or go to the emergency room.

Emergency contraception is for emergencies. It’s not a substitute for birth control. Sadly, medical doctors do see sufferers who depend on EC to keep away from being pregnant as a result of they don’t wish to use, say, condoms. However you’re extra more likely to get pregnant when you depend on EC. Most EC is just 75% efficient, whereas most contraception is nearer to 90% to 98% efficient.

Contraception tends to be cheaper than EC, too. The worth for EC can range, relying on the place you reside. Some over-the-counter EC can run as little as $10 a tablet. However different sorts can value as much as $90 per tablet. Most health insurance covers the complete value of an IUD. The underside line is, when you don’t wish to get pregnant, you need to have a dependable type of contraception that you just use constantly. Accidents occur, and emergency contraception is a good possibility for these. But it surely’s not for on a regular basis use.



Scott G. Chudnoff, MD, chair, Division of OB/GYN, Stamford Hospital, Stamford, CT; scientific professor of obstetrics and gynecology, Columbia College Vagelos School of Physicians and Surgeons, New York Metropolis.

© 2021 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.