What is EC?
Emergency contraception is medication that can reduce the risk of pregnancy after sex. Sometimes called the "morning after pill," it does not absolutely need to be taken the next day. It may be taken up to five (5) days after sex. Remember, the sooner it is taken after unprotected sex, the more effective it will be in preventing pregnancy.
EC is a "back up" method and should not be considered a regular method of birth control. As a regular method, even if used perfectly, EC is not as effective as other birth control methods. SHC providers will assist you in obtaining a reliable method of contraception for regular use.
The SHC offers a brand of emergency contraception called Plan B. Plan B contains the hormone levonorgestrel, a progestin hormone found in many birth control pills. Plan B does not contain the hormone estrogen.Who might want to consider EC?
A woman might want to consider EC if:
- The condom broke or slipped off during sex
- Her diaphragm or cervical cap slipped during sex
- No birth control method was used
- Birth control pills were forgotten or missed
- She was forced to have unprotected vaginal sex (sexual assault information)
EC prevents pregnancy by preventing ovulation, fertilization or implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus. All of these events happen before the start of pregnancy, medically defined as the implantation of a fertilized egg in the lining of a woman's uterus. EC is not an abortion pill. If a pregnancy is already established, EC will not interfere with that pregnancy and there are no known risks to the developing fetus.How do I use Plan B?
Plan B consists of one pill taken as soon as possible after unprotected sex.What are the side effects?
With Plan B, it is very uncommon to experience side effects. Some women may have mild nausea so it is best to take the pills with food.What can I expect after I take the pill?
Depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle at the time you take Plan B, your period may start on time or be a few days early or late. If your period does not start within three weeks after taking Plan B, see your health care provider for a pregnancy test.
The SHC recommends that you begin using a reliable birth control method regularly to prevent pregnancy. Providers can assist with answering questions, discussing birth control options, providing informational print materials and helping you make an appointment for a women's health care exam.How do I get Plan B at the Student Health Center?
Call or stop in to make an appointment with a medical provider. Make sure the receptionist knows you need a same day appointment. The provider will ask questions to determine if EC is appropriate for you. You may purchase the medication from the SHC.
Plan B is now also available at local pharmacies without a prescription for women 17 years of age or older. Those under 17 still need a prescription. Plan B is kept behind the pharmacy counter--just ask and be prepared to show proof of age. A male partner is also able to buy the medicine if you can't go yourself.
You may purchase Plan B to have available "just in case." This is especially recommended for those relying on condoms alone for birth control. If there is a problem with the condom, you can then take the Plan B as soon as possible.Is there a charge for Plan B?
Plan B is currently offered at the SHC for $20, subject to change.Does EC protect me against infections?
Emergency contraception offers no protection against STDs. If you have had unprotected sex, consider coming to the SHC for STD testing.Where can I get more information?
Call the SHC for more information or make an appointment to speak with a SHC provider.
Office of Population Research at Princeton University and Association
of Reproductive Health Professionals site