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

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

Most types of emergency contraception include 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.) For those who don’t launch an egg, then sperm can’t fertilize it. That stops being pregnant. However what many ladies don’t notice is that there’s a nonhormonal EC possibility accessible. It’s the Paragard copper IUD (intrauterine gadget). An IUD is a T-shaped gadget that’s put into your uterus by means of your cervix. Sperm don’t like copper, in order that they don’t get previous Paragard to achieve and fertilize an egg.

The factor about EC is that the earlier you employ it, the higher it really works. That’s very true in case you’re near ovulation in your menstrual cycle. Most ladies aren’t precisely positive once they ovulate, which is one more reason why it’s finest to take emergency contraception as quickly as doable after you’ve had unprotected intercourse. For those who 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 few 5-day span. If it’s been longer than 5 days, they’re a lot much less prone to work.

Ella requires a prescription, and also you’ll want a physician to insert Paragard. However most EC is offered 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 need to 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 could have particular recommendation that may aid you. For instance, in case you’re overweight or are tall with a big body, ella is extra prone to work than Plan B. However once you name your physician’s workplace, ensure you inform them you’re calling about EC, in order that they put you in contact along with your physician straight away.

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

The most typical unwanted effects to hormonal EC are nausea and vomiting, whereas an IUD could cause cramping and bleeding. You would possibly really feel a bit uncomfortable for a day or two after taking it. That’s regular. So is irregular menstrual bleeding afterward. Your subsequent interval is likely to be heavier or lighter than it usually is. It is likely to be later than regular, too, which could make you assume you’re pregnant. For those who’re fearful, contemplate taking a pregnancy test. And belief your intestine: If one thing appears fallacious, similar to actually heavy bleeding, name your physician or go to the emergency room.

Emergency contraception is for emergencies. It’s not a alternative 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 need to use, say, condoms. However you’re extra prone to get pregnant in case you depend on EC. Most EC is simply 75% efficient, whereas most contraception is nearer to 90% to 98% efficient.

Contraception tends to be inexpensive than EC, too. The worth for EC can fluctuate, relying on the place you reside. Some over-the-counter EC can run as little as $10 a capsule. However different varieties can value as much as $90 per capsule. Most health insurance covers the total value of an IUD. The underside line is, in case you don’t need to get pregnant, it is best to have a dependable type of contraception that you simply use constantly. Accidents occur, and emergency contraception is a superb possibility for these. However it’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.