Emergency contraception helps prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex. Emergency contraception isn't meant to be used in place of routine birth control. But it's an option if you have unprotected sex, your method of birth control fails or you miss a birth control pill.
To be effective, emergency contraception must be used as soon as possible after unprotected sex. Options include emergency contraception pills and the copper intrauterine device (IUD).
Emergency contraception pills — such as Next Choice One Dose, Plan B One-Step and Ella — can be used up to five days after unprotected sex. But the pills are more effective the sooner you take them.
A copper IUD (ParaGard) can also be used as emergency contraception. To prevent pregnancy, the IUD must be inserted within five days after unprotected sex.
Jan. 12, 2021
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- Frequently asked questions. Contraception FAQ114. Emergency contraception. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/emergency-contraception. Accessed Dec. 15, 2020.
- Hatcher RA, et al., eds. Contraceptive Technology. 21st ed. Ayer Company Publishers; 2018.