St. Luke's Hospital
Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
Find a Physician Payment Options Locations & Directions
Follow us on: facebook twitter Mobile Email Page Email Page Print Page Print Page Increase Font Size Decrease Font Size Font Size
America's 50 Best Hospitals
Meet the Doctor
Spirit of Women
Community Health Needs Assessment
Home > Health Information

Multimedia Encyclopedia

    Print-Friendly
    Bookmarks

    Emergency contraception

    Morning-after pill; Postcoital contraception; Birth control - emergency; Plan B

    Emergency contraception is a birth control method to prevent pregnancy in women:

    • After a sexual assault or rape
    • When a condom breaks or a diaphragm slips out of place
    • When a woman forgets to take birth control pills
    • When you have sex and do not use any birth control

    Information

    Emergency contraception most likely works by preventing or delaying the release of an egg from a woman's ovaries. This method prevents pregnancy in the same way as regular birth control pills.

    TYPES OF EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTION

    Two emergency contraceptive pills may be bought without a prescription:

    • Plan B One-Step is a single tablet that contains 1.5 mg of levonorgestrel.
    • Next Choice is taken as two doses, which each contain 0.75 mg of levonorgestrel. Both pills can be taken at the same time or as two separate doses 12 hours apart.
    • Either may be taken for up to 5 days after unprotected intercourse.

    Ulipristal acetate (ella) is a new type of emergency contraception pill that requires a prescription from a health care provider.

    • Ulipristal is taken as a single tablet.
    • It may be taken up to 5 days after unprotected sex.

    Two other methods that may be used to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex are:

    • Birth control pills. Talk to your health care provider about the correct dosage. In general, you must take 2 - 5 birth control pills at the same time to have the same protection.
    • A copper-releasing intrauterine device (IUD) may be used as an alternative emergency contraception method. It must be inserted by your health care provider within 5 days of having unprotected sex. Your doctor can remove it after your next period, or you may choose to leave it in place to provide ongoing birth control.

    MORE ABOUT EMERGENCY CONTRACEPTIVE PILLS

    Women ages 17 and older can buy Plan B One-Step and Next Choice at a pharmacy without a prescription or visit to the doctor. Younger girls need to contact a health care provider to get a prescription for these pills.

    Emergency contraception works best when you use it within 24 hours of having sex. However, it may still prevent pregnancy for up to 5 days after you first had sex.

    Emergency contraception may cause side effects. Most are mild. They may include:

    • Changes in menstrual bleeding
    • Fatigue
    • Headache
    • Nausea and vomiting

    After you use emergency contraception, your next menstrual cycle may start earlier or later than usual. Your menstrual flow may be lighter or heavier than usual.

    • Most women get their next period within 7 days of the expected date.
    • If you do not get your period within 3 weeks after taking emergency contraception, you might be pregnant. Contact your health care provider.

    Sometime, emergency contraception does not work. However, research suggests that emergency contraceptives have no long-term effects on the pregnancy or developing baby.

    OTHER IMPORTANT FACTS

    You should not use emergency contraception if:

    • You think you have been pregnant for several days
    • You have vaginal bleeding for an unknown reason (talk to your health care provider first)

    You may be able to use emergency contraception even if you cannot regularly take birth control pills. Talk to your health care provider about your options.

    Emergency contraception should not be used as a routine birth control method. It is less effective at preventing pregnancies than most types of birth control.

    References

    Tibbles CD. Selected gynecologic disorders. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2009:chap 98.

    Amy JJ, Tripathi V. Contraception for women: an evidence based overview. BMJ. 2009;339:b2895.doi:10.1136/bmj.b2895.

    Prine L. Emergency contraception: myths and facts. Obstet Gynecol Clin N Am. 2007;34:127–136

    Mischell DR. Family planning: contraception, sterilization, and pregnancy termination. In: Katz VL, Lentz GM, Lobo RA, Gershenson DM, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2007:chap 14.

    Armstrong C. ACOG recommendations on emergency contaception. Am Fam Physician. November 15, 20120;82(10;1278.

    BACK TO TOP

    • Intrauterine device

      illustration

    • Side sectional view of f...

      illustration

    • Hormone-based contracept...

      illustration

    • Birth control methods

      illustration

      • Intrauterine device

        illustration

      • Side sectional view of f...

        illustration

      • Hormone-based contracept...

        illustration

      • Birth control methods

        illustration

      A Closer Look

        Self Care

          Tests for Emergency contraception

            Review Date: 4/9/2012

            Reviewed By: Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Bellevue, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.

            The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
            adam.com

            A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Fire Fox and chrome browser.


            Back  |  Top
            About Us
            Contact Us
            History
            Mission
            Locations & Directions
            Quality Reports
            Annual Reports
            Honors & Awards
            Community Health Needs
            Assessment

            Newsroom
            Services
            Brain & Spine
            Cancer
            Heart
            Maternity
            Orthopedics
            Pulmonary
            Sleep Medicine
            Urgent Care
            Women's Services
            All Services
            Patients & Visitors
            Locations & Directions
            Find a Physician
            Tour St. Luke's
            Patient & Visitor Information
            Contact Us
            Payment Options
            Financial Assistance
            Send a Card
            Mammogram Appointments
            Health Tools
            My Personal Health
            mystlukes
            Spirit of Women
            Health Information & Tools
            Clinical Trials
            Health Risk Assessments
            Employer Programs -
            Passport to Wellness

            Classes & Events
            Classes & Events
            Spirit of Women
            Donate & Volunteer
            Giving Opportunities
            Volunteer
            Physicians & Employees
            For Physicians
            Remote Access
            Medical Residency Information
            Pharmacy Residency Information
            Physician CPOE Training
            Careers
            Careers
            St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
            Copyright © St. Luke's Hospital Website Terms and Conditions  |  Privacy Policy  |  Patient Notice of Privacy Policies PDF Sitemap St. Luke's Mobile