Emergency contraception

By Mayo Clinic Staff

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.

Get the latest health information from Mayo Clinic’s experts.

Sign up for free, and stay up to date on research advancements, health tips and current health topics, like COVID-19, plus expertise on managing health.

To provide you with the most relevant and helpful information, and understand which information is beneficial, we may combine your email and website usage information with other information we have about you. If you are a Mayo Clinic patient, this could include protected health information. If we combine this information with your protected health information, we will treat all of that information as protected health information and will only use or disclose that information as set forth in our notice of privacy practices. You may opt-out of email communications at any time by clicking on the unsubscribe link in the e-mail.

Jan. 12, 2021